"No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in the Olympic areas." – Olympic Charter: Rule 50.2
When the 2012 Summer Olympic Games begin July 25, some 13,500 British troops will be patrolling the streets of London – or about 4,000 more than are currently serving in Afghanistan. This exemplifies the length the International Olympic Committee and its host cities go to in order to prevent any sort of political uprising – small or large – during an Olympic Games.
That the Olympics is supposed to be two weeks of athletic competition free of political demonstration has meant little to those wishing to make a point, because when you are, why not make it on a stage the entire world is watching?
Countries have boycotted games for political reasons, and others haven't been invited – South Africa most famously. Over the years, these demonstrations of political strong-arming had been entirely symbolic, until Sept. 5, 1972, when a group of Palestinian terrorists stormed the Olympic village and took hostage 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.
The standoff lasted 16 hours, ending in a botched rescue attempt. By the time it was over, all 11 hostages and a German police officer were dead.
There was talk of halting the games right then, but IOC president Avery Brundage determined that could not happen.
"I am sure the public will agree that we cannot allow a handful of terrorists to destroy this nucleus of international cooperation and goodwill we have in the Olympic movement," he said to a crowd of 80,000 attending a memorial service inside the Olympic Stadium. "The Games must go on."
And so they did.