Report: Moment of Silence for Slain Israeli Athletes May Occur in London
The 2012 London Olympics may be having a memorial ceremony after all, for the murdered Israeli athletes of the 1972 Games, according to the Jewish Chronicle. This memorial, however, is unlikely to include the moment of silence urged by multiple U.S. Congressman and other politicians from around the world.
Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, Lord Sebastian Coe, reportedly informed his staff in a London City Hall meeting of a memorial ceremony planned for the Olympics opening day. During the “Tea Break” session thanking staff members for their hard work, Lord Coe was asked questions alluding to a memorial service to be held on July 27 for the eleven Israeli athletes and coaches shot to death by the Palestinian terrorist group “Black September” nearly forty years earlier in Munich. However, the content of the memorial service is unconfirmed and it’s unknown if the slain Israeli athletes and coaches will be memorialized there.
The moment of silence movement has gained global momentum across the US, Canada, Australia, Israel, and countries throughout Europe. The campaign began as an online petition created by Ankie Spitzer, the widow of Israeli fencing coach Andrei Spitzer (Spitzer was one of the slain Israelis at the Munich Games) and the JCC in Rockland County, New York. The petition on Change.org currently has nearly 90,000 signatures with support from Jewish leaders throughout the world as well as the US Senate.
“The Munich tragedy was an outrageous attack against innocent athletes and against the unifying spirit of the Olympics,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. “Observing a moment of silence at the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, when the world’s attention is focused on this symbol of international cooperation and peace, would pay tribute to the slain athletes and coaches and would send a powerful message of unity in the fight against terrorism.”
In the UK, over fifty MPs led by Bob Blackman of the Conservative Party advocated for the minute of silence. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also wrote of his support for the minute of silence to International Olympic Committee chairman Jacques Rogge. Nevertheless, the IOC has still refused to heed the petition’s request.
Meanwhile, memorial services for the Munich massacre are to be held by the Israeli and Jewish communities in Great Britain, on August 6.
The IOC could not be immediately reached for comment.