Last month, Costas told the Hollywood Reporter that he is planning his own tribute to the slain Israeli athletes in Munich during NBC’s telecast of the opening ceremonies Friday. The International Olympic Committee has turned down a request to honor the athletes on what is the 40th anniversary of that tragic event.
Costas said: “I intend to note that the IOC denied the request. Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive. Here’s a minute of silence right now.”
But will it happen? Ah, this is where it gets interesting.
When asked about Costas’ plan this week, NBC bounced back with a statement: "Our production plans for the Opening Ceremony are still being finalized and Bob is part of that planning."
Indeed, this is a sticky situation for NBC. If Costas goes ahead with his plan, it will put the network in the position of being critical of the IOC on an extremely sensitive issue.
The IOC clearly doesn't want to interject the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into the opening ceremonies. There is a concern how the Arab nations would react to a moment of silence for the Israeli athletes.
Last week, IOC president Jacques Rogge said that the opening ceremony, "is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident."
So NBC-IOC relations aren't going to be helped if Costas injects his own moment of silence into the telecast. Not that the IOC will return the billions from NBC with a TV deal that runs through the 2020 Games, but the two parties have to interact on many issues during the next eight years. An angry IOC could make things more complicated, if you know what I mean.
I'm Jewish and the Munich Massacre had a profound effect on me growing up as a 12-year-old boy. I'll have more on that at a later date.
The issue for today isn’t whether the IOC should honor the Israeli athletes during the opening ceremonies. That’s not going to happen.
Rather, should Costas stage his own moment of silence on the telecast?
As a journalist, Costas is well within his bounds to note the controversy over the IOC decision regarding the Israeli athletes. It’s news.
But can he back off a pledge to take it to the next level? That would put Costas in a tough spot since Jewish leaders have lauded him for taking a stand.
From an Associated Press story:
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said support from Costas would be welcome. Foxman’s organization, which promotes Jewish causes, has backed an effort to bring notice to the Munich victims at opening ceremonies for years.
“I think he’s right, and I think it will make a difference because of who he is,” Foxman said. “It’s sad that one has to characterize it as courageous. It’s such a common sense thing to do.”
NBC and Costas have two more days to make a decision. Interesting discussions, to be sure.