Top 10 Olympic Debacles

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Top 10 Olympic Debacles

Many hands were wrung and many tongues were clucked over the decision of International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge not to honor the victims of the 1972 Munich massacre with a moment of silence at the opening ceremony. The North Korean women's soccer team refused to take the field against Colombia after Olympic organizers mistakenly showed South Korea's flag on a video screen during player introductions. Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was expelled from the Games for an allegedly racist tweet.

This is what passes for intense drama and raging controversy when the Olympic Games are conducted with relative calm - which, through the first several days, at least, had been the case in London. When vitriol and sanctimoniousness are kept at a low boil, the spotlight can shine on deserving international superstars such as Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt.

It hasn't always been this way. For all the high-minded idealism and over-the-top hyperbole about the capacity of the Olympics as a constant force for good in the world, history teaches a distinctly different lesson. The aforementioned Munich massacre proved the exact opposite, that masked gunmen would snuff out young lives in service to an evil political agenda.

Records unsealed after the fall of East Germany proved that the state secret police had supervised doping of athletes throughout the 1970s and '80s, forever staining Olympic performances. Eric Rudolph cast his name in infamy at the Atlanta Games in 1996 when three pipe bombs he planted exploded, killing one woman and injuring more than 100.

It's important to retain perspective. Yes, the U.S. was robbed in the 1972 Munich basketball final. Yes, the so-called fireworks at Beijing's 2008 Games were computer-generated. But let others agonize over whether South African double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius should be allowed to compete in London. Because when it comes to the Top 10 Olympic Debacles, issues like that won't even make it out of the starting blocks.

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