Lifestyle & Belief

Olympic committee rejects Israel's request for moment of silence at London Games


Israel's national flag flies at half-mast as the coffins of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the Munich Olympics arrive September 7, 1972 at the international airport at Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel.



The International Olympic Committee has rejected proposals to hold a minute of silence in honor of the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches who were killed by terrorists during the 1972 Games in Munich, the New York Times reported

Last month, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon sent a letter to the IOC's president Jacques Rogge, requesting a minute of silence at this summer's London Games to mark the 40 year anniversary of the murders in Munich, according to the Times. 

On September 5, 1972, eight Palestinian terrorists broke into an Olympic village dormitory in Germany under the cover of night and took 11 Israelis hostage, the Times reported. The militants said that they would let their hostages go if Israel would release over 200 Palestinian prisoners. A standoff ensued when Israel refused to negotiate, as an audience around the world watched the tense tragedy unfold. The Israelis were eventually all shot and killed. 

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Ayalon had sent the request on behalf of two of the murdered athletes' widows, Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, who have been working to have a moment of silence instated at the games for years, according to the Times. 

“Unfortunately, this response is unacceptable as it rejects the central principles of global fraternity on which the Olympic ideal is supposed to rest,” Ayalon said Thursday in a statement, according to the JTA Jewish News service. “The terrorist murders of the Israeli athletes were not just an attack on people because of their nationality and religion; it was an attack on the Olympic Games and the international community.”

The Israel National Olympic Committee will hold its own memorial ceremony during the Games, as it has at every Olympics, according to JTA. 

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“We strongly sympathize with the victims’ families and understand their lasting pain,” Rogge said in response to the request, Sports Illustrated reported. “What happened in Munich in 1972 strengthened the determination of the Olympic Movement to contribute more than ever to building a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit. (The IOC) has officially paid tribute to the memory of the athletes on several occasions and will continue to do so in close coordination with the National Olympic Committee of Israel." 

Rogge promised that Olympic Committee members would attend the Israeli ceremony this year, JTA reported. 

Representatives Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, Democrats of New York, also sent a letter to Rogge requesting a minute of silence during the opening ceremony at the London Games on July 27, according to the Times.