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In Singapore, Olympic hypocrisy

Olympic Committee adds insult to injury by allowing athletes to engage in politics during games.

The Junior Olympics, designed for teenage athletes, was conceived as an attempt to expand the Olympic brand and make the expensive sponsorship deals more attractive for the Game’s marketing partners. But to add a high-minded gloss to the affair, the Olympic brass has made much of the fact that it will provide an education and culture program — “a whole new dimension” seemed to be the catch-phrase — for the young athletes.

Speaking at the opening ceremonies last weekend, International Olympic Committee President Jaques Rogge called the Games “a global forum,” which would inform the young athletes — some 3,500 from 205 nations — about global issues and Olympic values. The youngsters are supposed to get helpful grounding in such troubling issues as doping and gambling as well as introductory lessons in social responsibility.

The most obvious “social” lesson to be garnered at the games so far is that you can insult Israeli athletes without peril as long as you are willing to cloak the insult in a lie. And it’s pretty much a unique situation. Just try and imagine the outrage and outcry if western athletes began forfeiting matches rather than compete against Muslim opponents.

Before it starts educating young athletes as to Olympic history and the social responsibilities of Olympic athletes, the International Olympic Committee could obviously use a remedial course in its own history and its own responsibilities. The kids in Singapore are old enough to recognize institutional hypocrisy cloaked in sanctimony.