Push for Munich massacre moment of silence at Olympics gaining support
Olympic committee still refuses to hold a moment of silence for Israeli athletes at the opening ceremony on Friday, though a last-ditch final appeal is in the works.
The campaign to observe a minute on silence to commemorate 40 years since the murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, at the Olympic opening ceremony in London on Friday is attracting unprecedented levels of support including that of United States President Barack Obama and the mayor of the host city, Boris Johnson.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is still refusing to hold a moment of silence at the ceremony and the families of the eleven athletes are planning a mass gathering at London's Trafalgar Square on Friday to observe the minute's silence there.
On Wednesday, two of the athletes' widows, Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano will issue a final appeal to the IOC and its president Jaque Rogge to hold a moment of silence at the opening ceremony for the 2012 Games at the Olympic stadium in east London on Friday afternoon.
The press conference will be attended also by Israel's ambassador to Great Britain, Daniel Taub. This evening, Spitzer and Romano presented Rogge with a petition signed by over 100 thousand people on the internet, calling for the minute's silence. The IOC and Rogge have refused to the demand, as they have done at past Olympic Games, claiming that it would "bring politics into the Olympics," but Israeli sources have said that the real reason is their fear that athletes from Arab nations would ignore the gesture. At the 2002 winter Olympics at Salt Lake City, a moment of silence was observed for the victims of the 9/11 attack.
The families were not satisfied by the "spontaneous" silence that Rogge organized on Monday at the Olympic village along with members of the British government and are planning to hold their own public moment of silence on Friday morning in Trafalgar Square where the Kaddish prayer will be recited and the Israeli national anthem sung.
A commemoration of the eleven Israeli athletes murder by Palestinian terrorists from the PLO's Black September group has also gained the support of U.S. President Barack Obama. Last Thursday a White House official said that Obama "absolutely" supports the moment of silence. Republican candidate for the presidency, Mitt Romney, who headed the organizing committee of the Salt Lake City games, and will be visiting London on Thursday, also expressed his support for the silence.
The refusal by the IOC has embarrassed the British organizers. The head of the London organizing committee, Lord Sebastian Coe said a few weeks ago that there will be a "personal" moment to remember the Israeli athletes and London Mayor Boris Johnson said in response to a question on Twitter about the moment of silence -“Believe me we will have one. Was stunned to find Barcelona (the venue for the Olympics twenty years ago) had nothing” but neither of them have yet elaborated how they plan to do so.
Bob Costas, an announcer for ABC Sports, which is broadcasting the Olympic Games in the U.S., plans to pause for a moment of remembrance, when the Israeli athletic team enters the stadium at the opening ceremony.
The campaign for the minute's silence has been spearheaded along with the families by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. An Israeli diplomat said today that "this is has turned into the most successful public campaign we have held in recent years with an incredible level of support from around the world."