International Olympic Committee president ignores mounting pressure
to commemorate 11 Israeli athletes slain in 1972 terror attack at
Munich games • NBC´s Bob Costas to observe moment of silence during
broadcast of Olympics opening ceremony • Rogge says, "The opening
ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic
There will be not be a minute´s silence for the 11 Israelis massacred
in Munich in 1972 when the 2012 Olympic Games open in London on
Friday, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge has
Rogge said Saturday there would be the traditional private
commemoration with the Israeli Olympic Committee and the IOC, but no
minute of silence at the opening ceremony of the games.
Israel has tried for decades to get the IOC to hold an official
commemoration for the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches murdered by
terrorists from the Black September movement in 1972. Ankie Spitzer,
widow of slain athlete Andrei Spitzer, this year started a petition
asking the IOC to observe a minute of silence during the London
The well-publicized campaign has some influential backers. The U.S.
Senate passed a motion in support of it, and the Canadian, Australian
and German governments all notified the IOC of their support of the
minute of silence. On Thursday night, the White House announced that
President Barack Obama "absolutely supports" the campaign. A poster
showing the photos of the dead men with the caption: "Share if you
agree: 17 days, 24,480 minutes; not 1 minute to honor the memory of
the Munich 11?" has gone viral on Facebook.
But on Saturday Rogge once again ruled out any sort of public
"We are going to pay a homage as we have done in the past and will do
in the future. That is what we are going to do," Rogge told
reporters. "We feel that we are able to give a very strong homage and
remembrance within the sphere of the national Olympic committee. We
feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to
remember such a tragic incident."
Rogge said the IOC would visit the airfield of Fuerstenfeldbruck near
Munich on Sept. 5, 40 years after the botched operation by German
forces to end the standoff led to the death of more hostages as well
as of police and of the gunmen.
Meanwhile, the proposed moment of silence does appear to be gaining
traction among private enterprises and individuals. The latest public
figure to announce his support for the measure was Bob Costas, a
veteran sportscaster for the U.S.-based broadcasting network NBC.
Costas, 60, told The Hollywood Reporter that he would "note that the
IOC denied the request [to hold a moment of silence]."
"Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive.
Here´s a minute of silence right now," Costas said, referring to how
he would announce the entry of the Israeli team to the stadium during
the main opening ceremony this Friday. Costas also said that he found
the IOC´s decision "baffling." London Mayor Boris Johnson was to hold
a special event marking the anniversary on Sunday.