Israel fumes at Olympic Committee’s rejection of tribute to Munich victims

Jerusalem had asked for ‘a moment of silence’ on 40th anniversary of massacre

London 2012 Olympic Stadium (CC BY Frank Steiner/Flickr)
London 2012 Olympic Stadium (CC BY Frank Steiner/Flickr)

Israel has slammed the International Olympic Committee for rejecting its request to hold a moment of silence at the opening ceremony for London’s 2012 Olympics to memorialize the 40th anniversary of the Munich terrorist attack in which 11 Israeli team members were murdered.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who had called for the memorial to the 11 Israeli athletes, said Thursday: “Unfortunately, this response is unacceptable as it rejects the central principles of global fraternity on which the Olympic ideal is supposed to rest.”

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge wrote in his rejection letter Monday: “The IOC has officially paid tribute to the memory of the athletes on several occasions.” He continued, “Within the Olympic family, the memory of the victims of the terrible massacre in Munich in 1972 will never fade away.”

Ayalon had requested the commemoration of the 11 murdered athletes last month in an official letter to the IOC. Relatives of the victims have  spent decades petitioning for a moment of silence at the Olympics in honor of the Israeli athletes and coaches murdered by the Palestinian group Black September, with no success.

“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,” Ayalon wrote. “This rejection told us as Israelis that this tragedy is yours alone and not a tragedy within the family of nations. This is a very disappointing approach and we hope that this decision will be overturned so the international community as one can remember, reflect and learn the appropriate lesson from this dark stain on Olympic history.”

The 2012 Olympic Games will take place from July 27 to August 12, and the Paralympic Games from August 29 to September 9.

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