Olympic c'tee rules out Munich public commemoration

IOC President Jacques Rogge rejects calls for an official commemoration of the 1972 Munich Games attack.

July 23, 2012 03:04
2 minute read.
11 Israeli athletes killed in 1972 Munich attack

The 11 Israeli athletes killed in 1972 Munich attack 370 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS / Handout)

LONDON – The IOC has ruled out marking the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre at the London Olympics opening ceremony but will visit the airfield where some Israeli team members were killed, it said on Saturday.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge rejected calls for an official commemoration of the 1972 Munich Games attack during Friday’s curtain raiser, a standing request of the families of the 11 Israeli Olympic team members who died.

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Rogge said there would be the traditional private commemoration with the Israeli Olympic Committee and the IOC but no minute’s silence at the opening of the games.

“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,” he added. “We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident.”

Meanwhile, Jewish groups criticized the decision, calling the IOC’s stance “completely out of touch.”

“Hundreds of millions around the world are going to watch the opening ceremony in London next Friday.

Forty years after the saddest moment in Olympic history – when 11 Israeli athletes and sports officials and a German police officer were killed by Palestinian terrorists – it would have been a excellent opportunity to show to everyone that the sports world stands united against terrorism,” said World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder.

“Instead, an IOC delegation will commemorate the dead at an airfield near Munich in September, but that ceremony hardly anybody will notice. Frankly, that’s not good enough,” Lauder declared.

Family members of the athletes, coaches and officials who were killed by Palestinian gunmen during the Munich Olympics have tried for four decades to persuade the IOC to organize an official commemoration.

Their calls were backed in recent days by US President Barack Obama as well as other politicians around the world.

Rogge said the IOC would visit on September 5 the airfield of Fuerstenfeldbruck near Munich, 40 years after the botched operation by German forces to end the standoff led to the death of more hostages as well as police and gunmen from the Black September group.

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