With only two days until the opening of the 2012 London Olympics, widows of two Israeli athletes murdered during the 1972 Munich Olympics made a final call yesterday to the International Olympic Committee to hold a public minute of silence for the 11 Israelis who lost their lives in the terror attack.
Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano – whose husbands were killed by terrorists along with nine of their teammates – again yesterday asked IOC President Jacque Rogge to grant the minute during the opening ceremony of the London Games on Friday.
The widows were scheduled to present Rogge and the IOC yesterday evening with a petition, which has gathered more than 103,000 signatures requesting the organisation honour the memory of the men with a minute of silence.
The IOC and Rogge have already said that they will not pay tribute on Friday, claiming that it would “bring politics into the Olympics,” but Israeli sources have said that the real reason is their fear that athletes from Arab nations would ignore the gesture. At the 2002 winter Olympics at Salt Lake City, a moment of silence was observed for the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
The petition that was started by Spitzer and Romano in conjunction with the Jewish Community Center of Rockland County, New York, has sparked an outpouring of support from around the world, including legislative and government action in Israel, the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany and others.
The refusal by the IOC has somewhat embarrassed the British organisers. The head of the London organising committee, Lord Sebastian Coe said a few weeks ago that there will be a “personal” moment to remember the Israeli athletes, and London Mayor Boris Johnson said in response to a question on Twitter about the moment of silence -“Believe me we will have one. Was stunned to find Barcelona (the venue for the Olympics twenty years ago) had nothing” but neither of them have yet elaborated how they plan to do so.