The World Jewish Congress has lamented the refusal by the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, to hold one minute’s silence at the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games in London in remembrance of the Israeli sportsmen who were taken hostage and later murdered by the Black September terrorist group during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. During a press conference in London on Saturday, Rogge (pictured above) had again ruled out such a symbolic gesture, despite numerous calls from around the world to do so. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder called the IOC stance “unfeeling” and the IOC leaders “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 eleven Israeli athletes and sports officials and a German police officer were killed by Palestinian terrorists - it would have been an excellent opportunity to show to everyone that the sports world stands united against terrorism. 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,” the WJC president declared.
Rogge had rejected the latest calls for a special observance to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the attack, saying: "We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident." Lauder added: “Nobody wants to ‘politicize’ the Olympic Games, as the IOC seems to suggest, but Baron Rogge and his colleagues on the IOC Executive have utterly failed – or refused - to grasp the importance of such a symbolic act. One can only speculate on their motives. Let’s hope it was not pressure from certain regimes that could not bear Israeli athletes being commemorated that has swayed the IOC against holding one minute’s silence.”
Family members of the athletes, coaches and officials who were killed by Palestinian gunmen during the Munich Olympics have tried for a long time to persuade the IOC to organize an official commemoration during the opening ceremony in London. Their calls were backed in recent weeks by US President Barack Obama as well as many governments, parliamentarians and NGOs around the world.