BILL DWYRE

Terrorism threat at the Olympics: A sad but unalterable fact of life

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Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Olympic volunteers in Sochi, Russia, on Friday. Security concerns have cast a shadow over the anticipation for next month's Winter Olympic Games. (Alexei Nikolsky / Associated Press / January 17, 2014)

This stuff is real. People with violent agendas see the Olympics as a home game.

The plainclothes police outside our media hotel in Athens in 2004 — the same guys standing in the same place every day and looking greatly like special LAPD assignees though never confirmed to us — were real. The military tank that showed up one day at the 2008 Beijing Olympics at the entrance to the press center was not just there for a photo op.

The Olympics, sadly, have become so much more than the old ABC "Wide World of Sports" slogan, also intoned by McKay: "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat."

They are nationalistic joy, colorful entertainment, inspirational efforts.

And they are Lilly, of whom we have written before.

She was about 10 years old, on a train with her family en route to events in the 2000 Sydney Games. She held her event ticket so tight her knuckles were white. She and her family had saved and saved so they could make the long train trip to Sydney. They had left in the middle of the night, and after a long day of Olympic viewing, would head back on the train. After ticket-buying, there wasn't enough money for a hotel room.

Lilly said she would be an Olympian one day, either a swimmer or gymnast. We have forgotten which one. We do remember her passion for getting there, both that day to see and someday to compete.

This is all pretty basic.

Sick people's agendas must be stopped from turning the Olympic dreams of a Lilly into the Olympic disillusionment of an entire generation.

bill.dwyre@latimes.com

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