President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach has accepted an invitation from Israel-National Olympic Committee head Yael Arad to attend the country’s ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Munich massacre.
The ceremony – slated for September 21 in Tel Aviv – will mark the first time an IOC head has come to Israel since 2010 and the first time that one is attending a ceremony for the victims of the 1972 Munich games.
It was at those Olympics that Palestinian terrorists from the PLO-affiliated Black September terrorist group stormed the athletes’ village and killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches as well as a German policeman in 1972.
The ceremony will be the first-ever national commemoration ceremony organized by the Culture and Sports Ministry and Minister Chili Tropper. In addition to Bach, attendees will include President Isaac Herzog and families of the victims.
“Since his election, in 2013, President Bach has led countless innovative activities in many fields, has propelled the organization to the forefront and established himself an international and principled leader,” Arad said, in announcing that Bach would be joining the event.
“I am proud of his decision to join us in Israel for these fateful and important days for Israeli sports.”
IOC making moves to recognize Munich Massacre
At the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, Bach instituted the long-awaited one-minute-silence commemorating the massacre. On top of attending the commemoration ceremony, Bach will also be visiting Yad Vashem, the President’s Residence and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Earlier this month, on a visit to Germany, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, when asked whether he would apologize for that attack, not only refrained from making amends but outraged Israelis and Germans when he answered that Israel had committed “holocausts” against the Palestinians.
Israeli families boycott German memorial ceremony
Israeli families of the victims of the Munich massacre announced earlier this month that they are boycotting the official German ceremony over what they deemed insufficient financial compensation from the German government.
“I don’t want some euros to be thrown in my direction. We are not going to accept that,” Ankie Spitzer, widow of fencing master Andrei Spitzer and spokeswoman for the families, told Reuters. “We are not going to the memorial ceremony until Germany takes real responsibility, not only by words.”
"We are not going to the memorial ceremony until Germany takes real responsibility"Ankie Spitzer
Arad, speaking Saturday night to KAN, said that as long as the families were not going to attend the ceremony in German, the Israeli Olympic Committee would also stay away.
“There is no sense in going if the families are not going. They are at the center of this,” said Arad. “We will honor them here in our state ceremony.”