Olympics committee insists: No moment of silence for Munich 11
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 incident."
Reuters and Israel Hayom staff
NBC sportscaster Bob Costas.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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 ruled.
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 games.
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 commemoration.
"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.