Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev said Sunday that a commemoration for the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics must become part of every Olympics opening ceremony.
Speaking at a memorial ceremony at the Rio De Janeiro city hall for the slain Israelis, attended by Israeli, Brazilian and Olympic officials, Regev said a “black flag” would always fly over the Games.
“This ceremony is not enough,” the minister said Sunday at the event, also attended by family members of the Israeli victims and officials from the International Olympic Committee.
“The grief for the Munich athletes does not belong only to the families, only to Israel, only to the Jewish people,” she said. “It is a tragedy also for the IOC which will have a black flag flying.”
“This must become an integral part of the Olympic Games opening ceremony to remind the free world what can happen when we let our guard down,” she added.
Also speaking at the ceremony, IOC President Thomas Bach said of the athletes: “We remember them because they are our fellows Olympians.”
Earlier this month, Bach led a mourning ceremony for the slain Israelis in a tribute that a widow of one of the victims said brought “closure” for the families.
Regev praised the IOC head saying he “was the first to understand the obligation of the IOC to mark this tragedy,” in reference to the inauguration of the Place of Mourning in Rio, a monument which will now be a feature at every Olympics at the athletes’ village. The memorial includes two stones from Ancient Olympia in Greece and bears an inscription reading “We will always remember you forever in our hearts.”
עם שזוכר את עברו יש לו עתיד. עשירי באב, תשע"ו. גם כאן, אנו זוכרים. זוכרים את חורבן ביתנו הלאומי לפני 1948 שנים, ואת 11…
At the inauguration on August 3, Bach, his voice cracking with emotion, read out of the names of each of the 11 Israelis and the German policeman who died after the raid in the athletes’ village in Munich, the worst terror attack in Olympic history.
With two widows of the victims and several current Israeli team members looking on, Bach called the Munich massacre “an attack not only on our fellow Olympians, but also an assault on the values that the Olympic Village stands for.”
He led a minute of silence during the inauguration and hugged Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, the widows of fencing coach Andre Spitzer and weightlifter Yossef Romano.
Bach also read out of the name of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luger killed in a training crash on the eve of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
Families of the Munich victims have campaigned for years for greater public recognition for the dead from the International Olympic Committee. The IOC faced criticism for refusing to hold a moment of silence for the Israeli victims during the opening of the 2012 London Games, 40 years after the attack.