Memorializing the Munich 11.
Memorializing the Munich 11. Photo by AP
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Ronald Lauder. Photo by AP

LONDON - The World Jewish Congress has dismissed the International Olympic Committee as "completely out of touch" for refusing a minute's silence for the victims of the 1972 Munich Games massacre at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics on Friday.

Congress president Ronald S. Lauder also said in a statement issued yesterday that his organization hoped the IOC was not bowing to pressure from "certain regimes" in its decision not to commemorate the 11 Israelis killed 40 years ago in an attack by Palestinian gunmen and a failed rescue operation by German authorities.

Lauder said that the IOC plan of taking part in a commemorative event of Israel's Olympic Committee on an airfield near Munich, where the rescue operation failed, was not good enough.

"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," Lauder said.

"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."

Despite pressure from around the world, IOC president Jacques Rogge had reiterated on Saturday that the opening ceremony was not an appropriate stage to commemorate the victims and that the IOC would send a delegation to the event at Fuerstenfeldbruck airfield.

Israelis remember Munich massacre

While the official Olympic movement continues to ignore their pain, Israelis marked the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre with a modest service yesterday.

Prayers were read for the 11 murdered Israelis and wreaths were laid for them, in the atrium of a London apartment building some six kilometers from the Olympic Stadium.

Israeli Olympic Committee secretary general Efraim Zinger says "it's been 40 years since that dreadful day and I hope that the day will come that the IOC will recognize all 11 athletes as victims, and find the proper way to commemorate their memory."

Neither the IOC nor the London Organizing Committee was represented at yesterday's makeshift memorial service, where a plaque featuring the victims' names was unveiled.