Exclusive: Israel proposal to honour Munich 1972 murder victims rebuffed by IOC member
Thursday, 17 May 2012
May 17 - A minute's silence at London 2012 in honour of the 11 Israeli athletes killed during the 1972 Munich Olympics would harm the "unity" of the Games, according to Alex Gilady, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Gilady (pictured top, far right), Israel's IOC member, who in 1972 was a journalist covering the Olympics, has in the past refused to back calls for a special commemoration at the Games – and is not changing his stance despite the 40th anniversary of the tragedy nearing.
Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, has asked the IOC to open this summer's Games with a silence honouring the victims.
The Jewish News has also reported that British Members of Parliament, including Louise Mensch, a key member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, are to table a motion calling for the minute's silence.
The committee's chair, John Whittingdale, also supports a commemoration, according to Mensch.
"The unity of the Olympic movement is the most important one, and... therefore, I am not supporting such a move," Gilady, who is on the IOC's Coordination Commission for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics, told insidethegames.
"Such an act may harm the unity of the Olympics.
"Besides, it was time for the Israeli Olympic Committee (COI) and Family to ask for such an act in 1976 in Montreal – that was the perfect time and they have not asked.
"Four years later in Moscow the Israeli Olympic Committee boycotted the Games and even in Los Angeles in 1984, with a very strong Jewish involvement in the Organising Committee and in the town, they have not asked."
Adding that he "understands" the calls, Gilady insisted that "for the Olympic movement it is not a question of remembering because we are presenting permanently in the Olympic museum a statue donated in their memory by the COI.
"The COI is hosting every Games a memorial which the President of the IOC is attending, and many delegates from many other National Olympic Committees are present and, on this occasion, we are commemorating a minute's silence."
The IOC also points out that the murdered athletes were honoured the day after the tragedy at Munich's Olympic Stadium as well as with a monument and memorial in the German city.
The Israeli sports stars were killed by Palestinian terrorists from the Black September group (pictured above) who scaled the wall of the Athletes' Village in Munich and took some of the 30-strong delegation hostage.
After a stand-off, with the terrorist group demanding the release of 234 Palestinians from Israeli jails, 11 Israelis and a German policeman were murdered in one of the most shocking moments in Olympic history.
It was not the only time tragedy struck at the Games.
Twenty-four years later in Atlanta a bomb exploded in the Olympic Park, killing two people.
The Israeli team had come to Germany for an Olympics for the first time since the World War Two Holocaust, and it was therefore always going to be a particularly moving Games for the delegation.
Israel's Government subsequently launched an operation to find and kill all of those responsible for the murders, and the events led to a significant increase in security for future Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Ankie Spitzer, the wife of Andrei, Israel's 1972 fencing coach who was murdered, told the Jewish News: "My husband and his team-mates were not tourists who came to watch the Games – they were part of it and were murdered in the Olympic village.
"We want them to be remembered in the framework of the Olympics.
"The minimum the IOC should do is mention it at the Opening Ceremony.
"They have refused, despite the fact we've been knocking on their door for the last 36 years."
Spitzer has said in the past that the efforts have been blocked because Arab nations would not be happy with such a move.
"My husband was not in politics, he was not in the army – he came as an athlete," added Spitzer, who gave birth to Andrei's son just weeks before the Munich Olympics.