An Iranian named Javad Foroughi was awarded a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. His sport is sharpshooting.
And now a critical groundswell is growing, asking that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) strip Foroughi of his medal. And not just that, they are asking that Japanese authorities ask Interpol to issue a warrant for the Iranian gold medalist’s arrest.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper and the Rev. Johnnie Moore co-wrote an OPED for Media Line that was picked up around the world, even by Al Jazeera. Their column is titled: “Iranian sharpshooter Olympian should be arrested, not given gold medal – opinion”
It was subtitled: “Iran's Olympian sharpshooter honed his craft during Syria’s civil war – where civilians, mostly women and children, were often put in the crosshairs of live bullets. He shouldn't be rewarded.”
Neither Iran nor Foroughi deny the role he played in the Basij, a para-military branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Basij wear civilian clothing and ride on motorcycles. Their job is to attack civilians. The IRCG has been deemed a terrorist organization.
By now, your mental picture of who Javad Foroughi is and specifically how he honed his skill should be crystal clear.
Cooper and Moore are correct. Those forming the anti-Foroughi groundswell are on the mark. Foroughi should be stripped of his medal and arrested.
But that is very unlikely to happen. The International Olympic Committee is spineless.
It took nearly 50 years before the IOC held a memorial for the Munich Olympic massacre to honor the memories of 11 Israeli athletes brutally murdered in the Munich Olympic Village in 1972. At long last, this year, in Tokyo, the IOC officially granted a moment of silence in their memory. One moment.
After decades of lobbying and argumentation, the IOC finally did the right thing and gave their memories a moment. It was a major moral victory.
And yet, despite their one moment of conscience overriding prejudice, the IOC still does not understand the significance of their messaging.
The essential lesson – which should be obvious, which should need no explanation, is lost on them.
Terrorists should not receive Olympic medals. Terrorists should be arrested.
Parents should be able to tell their children that the Olympic Games embrace the ideas of peace and morality. That the Olympic Games break down differences and open the doors of international diplomacy.
That these ideas are enshrined in the concept of “Sports Diplomacy” and the phoenix of “Sports Diplomacy” is the Olympic Games.
Instead, the IOC has chosen to continue their history of trampling morality.
In 1936, despite proof of anti-Jewish policies in Hitler’s Germany, the IOC chose to hold the Games in Germany. By official decree, Jews were not permitted to qualify for or to compete in the arena.
This was the Olympics of four-time gold medalist Jesse Owens. The Olympics during which Adolf Hitler walked out rather than award a medal to a Black American man.
The Nazi message resounded clearly to anyone paying attention.
Out of fear of offending their Nazi hosts, the United States modified their 4X100 relay team. Athletes Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, the two Jews on the team, were removed. They were replaced by Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, two Black men. The two fastest runners in America. And they won the gold.
Later that year, the original team broke the world record in an international track meet in Los Angeles.
And the IOC is not about to change.
When Russia was found guilty of systemic doping over years and of altering the drug tests of their athletes, the IOC could not avoid implementing some sort of punishment. The punishment they chose was to allow 335 Russians to compete this year, in the Tokyo Olympics but not as Russian.
Instead, they are competing under the label ROC, which stands for, of course, Russian Olympic Committee.
Next year, in 2022, the Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place in China. The human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese are too numerous to list. One example is enough, one example speaks volumes: Over 1 million Uyghurs have been arrested and placed in prison camps by China for the crime of simply being Uyghurs.
The International Olympic Committee has not yet acted morally or responsibly regrading Javad Foroughi. And, in all probability, they will not. But that does not mean that we should keep quiet, that we should acquiesce to their cowardice.
Allowing cold-blooded killer and terrorist Javad Foroughi of Iran to qualify and complete in the Olympic Games was reprehensible. Decent people should stand up and make sure that a travesty of this magnitude never again tarnishes the glory that is the Olympic Games.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.
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