IOC refuses minute's silence at London Olympics to mark 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes in Munich

25 May 2012

The International Olympic Committee has scotched any idea of a minute’s silence at the London Olympics opening ceremony in July to remember the eleven Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian terrorists during the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. “We do not foresee any commemoration during the opening ceremony of the London Games,” IOC President Jacques Rogge said.

The Israeli government had written to the IOC last month to ask that the 2012 Games open with a minute’s silence remembering the members of the Israeli squad killed by hostage-taking Palestinian members of the Black September terror group at the Olympic Village in Munich in 1972. The situation climaxed in the killing of 11 Israelis and a German policeman, as well as five of the terrorists. After the killings, then IOC President Avery Brundage pronounced the famous words "The games must go on."

IOC Spokesman Andrew Mitchell said: "The IOC has regularly commemorated the 1972 tragedy and will do so once more in London at a ceremony during the Games, but there will not be a minute’s silence in the opening ceremony." He added that the decision had been taken by the IOC in concertation with the Israeli National Olympic Committee and that it had been relayed to the Israeli government by Rogge. As during every Summer Olympics, the Israeli NOC will organize a memorial and Rogge would take part, as he did in the 2008 Games in Beijing, the spokesperson added.

The IOC move was not well received by Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, the man behind the original request that London’s opening ceremony commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Munich killings. "This approach told us as Israelis that this tragedy is yours alone and not within the family of nations. This is a disappointing approach and we hope that this decision will be overturned so the international community can learn the appropriate lessons from this stain on Olympic history," Ayalon said in reaction.

Meanwhile, members of the British parliament have discussed plans to hold a minute's silence in the House of Commons. Speaker John Bercow is reportedly considering such a rare move after several MPs called for it in the wake of the IOC’s rejection for a commemoration during the opening ceremony.

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