â†µThe specter of terrorism has hovered over the world of sports lately in ways we haven’t seen since the initial wave of fear that followed 9/11. First there was the widely condemned denial of a visa to Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer by the United Arab Emirates, effectively excluding her from the Dubai Championships because of what organizers claimed were legitimate fears for her security and that of the other players in the tournament. â†µ
â†µNow comes the grisly news from Pakistan of an attack on a bus carrying the Sri Lankan national cricket team on its way to play a match in the Pakistani city of Lahore. According to reports, seven policeman escorting the bus were killed, along with a driver, while seven members of the team and a coach were injured. â†µâ†µ
â†µThe attack immediately brought to mind the horrifying siege of Mumbai from last November. Watching television footage from Pakistan of two of the attacking gunmen, I also couldn’t help but think of the first and most infamous incident of international sports terrorism, the Munich Massacre, when a Palestinian terrorist organization took members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, resulting in the eventual murder of eleven Israeli athletes and coaches. â†µâ†µ
â†µSadly, it seems that today’s attack in Pakistan promises to severely influence the future of international sport in ways that even the tragedy in Munich did not. In particular, it is now all but certain that Pakistan will be stripped of its role as host for cricket’s World Cup in 2011. â†µâ†µ
â†µThe impact of all of this on the nation cannot be overstated. Cricket is a national passion in Pakistan to make the American love of baseball seem almost timid in comparison, and there’s no doubt the terrorists were well aware that striking at the heart of that passion was to strike at the very heart of Pakistan. â†µâ†µ
â†µIt’s a sad day for Pakistanis, and Sri Lankans, and indeed for all citizens of the world. It’s also a very frightening day for sports fans everywhere, as we mourn these unconscionable murders and again confront the fact that our major sporting events are highly vulnerable and appealing targets to those who seek to wreak havoc on our lives. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.