A six-minute tribute to the victims of the London subway terror attacks of July 7, 2005, was cut from the American broadcast of the London Olympics opening ceremony.
The NBC network showed a Ryan Seacrest interview with Michael Phelps instead
Choreographer Akram Khan told the BBC that he felt “disheartened and disappointed” by the NBC decision against airing his performance for U.S. television viewers. He added that “I am really sad that I couldn’t show the work in America, and that really upsets me, because I don’t think it’s any less or more than any of the other pieces.”
Of its programming decision, NBC has said that it was attempting to tailor the 2012 Summer Olympics broadcast for the American audience. It also said that it wasn’t aware of that the performance of “Abide With Me,” by the singer Emeli Sandé, that featured Khan and 50 dancers, was specifically a tribute to the 52 innocent persons killed in the suicide bomb attack that occurred a few days after London was named the host city for the 2012 Games.
Time offered this assessment of the 7/7 tribute controversy:
True, there was some disagreement over whether the segment was actually, literally a tribute to terrorism victims. The official program of the opening ceremonies describes that section of the program as a general tribute to “loved ones who couldn’t be with us.” But the commentary on the BBC telecast of the ceremony referenced it as a 7/7 tribute, and from the coverage in the British press, the symbolism and staging of the event seemed to clearly, if not officially, reference the 2005 attack.
But it also doesn’t really matter. Specific or general, a tribute to the missing seems like precisely the most sensitive section of a ceremony to edit out. And besides that, given the stranglehold NBC maintains on content for an event its audience has a massive interest in, why edit anything out? It may have been a long ceremony, as they always are, but there was plenty of time to air the song rather than have Ryan Seacrest interview athletes…
Perhaps NBC’s decision is less than surprising in the context that IOC officials have refused to even observe a moment of silence for the Israeli athletes murdered during the 1972 Munich Games.
Here is the footage from the London Olympics opening ceremonies broadcast that wasn’t aired on U.S. television: