Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid |

Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid

Todd Hartley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

While the world waits with bated breath to see if Japan can avert a nuclear disaster, we can all at least breathe a sigh of relief knowing that another impending crisis was recently averted.

I’m referring, of course, to Iran’s decision not to boycott the 2012 Olympic Games in London, a decision which saves the London event from being completely irrelevant. In fact, had Iran made good on its threat to skip the games, I’m not sure why the International Olympic Committee would even bother staging them. That’s how important the former Persia is to the integrity of the Olympics.

Iran, you may recall, boycotted both the 1980 Moscow Olympics and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. This may come as a shock to most of you, who, due mostly to Iran’s non-participation, probably didn’t even know the Olympics were held in those years. I’m told other countries boycotted those games as well, but Iran was the only one that really mattered.

On those two occasions the motivation behind Iran’s boycotts wasn’t exactly clear. (Were they trying to let the world know they were opposed to both communism and capitalism?) This time around, however, the National Olympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran (N.O.C.I.R. Iran) has a very legitimate gripe, and we should all just be thankful they’re willing to overlook it.

The controversy, as many of you may already be aware, stems from the design of London’s official Olympic logo, which looks like a random assortment of poorly drawn shapes but is apparently the number 2012. When seen through paranoid Islamic eyes, though, the logo clearly spells out the word “Zion,” a biblical term for Israel, which Iran has repeatedly vowed to wipe off the map.

Last moth, Iran called for the logo to be withdrawn and for its designers to be “confronted” on the grounds that the design is obviously racist. While the organizers of the London Games may dispute that claim, they should know that since the logo was unveiled in 2007, more than 50,000 people have signed an online petition calling for it to be changed. Of course, most of them just think it looks stupid and was a waste of $650,000, but I imagine Iran considers them allies in this argument anyway.

The citizens of England, apparently not grasping the magnitude of Iran’s threatened boycott, have been alarmingly cavalier and downright callous about the whole imbroglio, with Prime Minister David Cameron even going so far as to say, “If the Iranians don’t want to come, don’t come. We won’t miss you.”

Such a statement speaks volumes about Cameron’s lack of understanding of Olympic history, which is basically nonexistent without Iran. What it says about the latent racism of the English, meanwhile, is open to interpretation, but it makes me glad that I live in a country where such a thoughtless, candid remark would immediately be met with outrage and protests.

Fortunately for all concerned, last week Iran, which is never petty and leads the world in making mature, sensible decisions, issued a statement saying its mighty Olympic team will “participate and play gloriously in [the] London Games.” That, I’m sure, is a huge relief for the rest of the world’s Olympians. Yes, it will make it more difficult for them to win medals, but what medal-winners would honestly be able to consider themselves among the world’s best knowing they hadn’t competed against Iran’s top athletes?

I mean, think about it. If Iran had boycotted the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where it finished 51st with a whopping two medals, would, say, Michael Phelps really have been able to enjoy his eight gold medals? I say no. I imagine he would have spent the rest of his life wondering if there was some swimmer from Iran who could have bested him. Who knows? He might have even had to turn to illegal drugs to ease his guilty conscience. Thank God that didn’t happen.

In any event, Iran’s magnanimous decision now clears the way for its athletes to go to London in 2012 and “gloriously” try to duplicate the rousing success they experienced in 1948, the last time the Olympics were held there. It might be a little much to expect them to outdo that year’s performance, which resulted in one bronze medal, but I think that with its proud Olympic tradition and modern training methods, Iran is more than up to the task.

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