It is the kind of mistake that makes you smack your head. It is premeditated. It is easy to avoid. It is, predictably, having the opposite of the intended effect. It is just wrong.
Rogge's position is that the opening ceremonies are meant to be a celebration, that they are not the appropriate time and place to reflect on the murder of 11 Israelis by Palestinian terrorists. With a simple few words and a moment of silence, however, Rogge and the IOC would be celebrating the lives and spirits of those Olympians. The Olympic ideal they embodied, in the face of the most heinous acts imaginable, is what allowed the Games to survive after the massacre.
By refusing to acknowledge Munich during the ceremonies, Rogge has succeeded only in making it a bigger issue. NBC's Bob Costas has indicated he will address the anniversary during the network's coverage. It is likely that individual athletes and national teams will take it upon themselves to make statements or gestures.
All Rogge has accomplished, then, is putting those athletes at odds with the stewards of the Olympic Movement. He has made the IOC the bad guys and turned advocates of an official recognition, including two widows of the murdered Israelis, into even more deeply sympathetic figures. In the name of avoiding an unpleasant issue, he has invited protest and injured feelings.
Throw in the fact that this remains an issue - the IOC still has problems with nations such as Iran and Algeria refusing to compete with Israel - and Rogge's position becomes clearer, and more clearly cowardly. He is more concerned with placating nations that make a mockery of Olympic ideals than with acknowledging men who died honoring them.
Rogge would like us to believe that Munich was an anomaly, that it doesn't reflect the nature of the Olympic movement. But that's just not true.
Arriving at the Olympic Park in London means breaching a perimeter marked by miles of fencing and concrete barriers. Between the train and the security checkpoint, I walked down steps in the Westfield Mall alongside a British soldier. I was carrying my laptop. He had an automatic weapon.
It is impossible for the world to gather for athletic competition without construction of a fortress. The best part of human nature brings us together, and the worst part makes us targets for doing so. It is insulting to more than the memory of the murdered Olympians for Rogge to pretend otherwise.
It was insulting on another level for Mitt Romney to express concern about London's readiness for these Games. Romney was speaking more as the man who headed up the effort to host the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City than as a presidential candidate. Nevertheless, there is a big difference between staging games in a relatively remote mountain location in Utah and holding them in one of the world's largest and most diverse cities.
The truth is, absolute security is impossible. All the fencing and security screenings and armed troops really provide is a deterrent and a comforting facade. It is one of the truly awesome things about the Olympics that we know all that, but we still go ahead and stage them anyway.
The better part of our nature persists in defiance of the worst part.
That schism, at least as far as the Olympics are concerned, opened in Munich. The Games could never be completely innocent again. After Munich, the athletes were better protected. After Sept. 11, 2001, security for the entire enterprise became a priority.
Earlier this week, Rogge honored the Munich 11 as part of a ceremony in the athletes' village. He said at the time that it was natural for him to address the tragedy in front of the current crop of Olympians.
It would be every bit as natural to honor the fallen with the world watching. It would be the easy thing to do. It would be the right thing.
Rogge is choosing a mistake, instead.
Contact Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @Sheridanscribe. Read his blog, "Philabuster," at www.philly.com/philabuster, and his columns at www.philly.com/philsheridan