Thursday, May 17, 2012
IOC declines Israel's request
JERUSALEM -- Israeli officials were angry Thursday after the International Olympic Committee denied their request to hold a special tribute to the 11 Israeli team members killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Games.
Deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon had asked the IOC to open this year's Games in London with a minute of silence to honor the slain Israeli athletes and coaches on the 40th anniversary of the massacre.
But in a written response to Ayalon, IOC president Jacques Rogge said he would personally attend the Israeli delegation's traditional tribute to the victims while in London. He also pointed out that the IOC has officially paid tribute to the victims' memory before, but did not specifically address the request of a minute's silence.
"Please rest assured that, within the Olympic family, the memory of the victims of the terrible massacre in Munich in 1972 will never fade away," Rogge wrote.
Ayalon called the response "unacceptable" because it "rejects the central principles of global fraternity on which the Olympic ideal is supposed to rest."
The massacre was not just an assault on the Israeli team, but "an attack on the Olympic Games and the international community," he said. "Thus it is necessary for the Olympic Games as a whole to commemorate this event in the open rather than only in a side event."
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the Olympic body takes the issue "very, very seriously."
"During the period of the Games, the Israeli NOC traditionally hosts a reception in memory of the victims and the IOC is always strongly represented. London will be no exception," Adams said. "There will be an event at the Guildhall, which the IOC president will attend and will pay tribute to those who died.
"We felt that the tribute at the Guildhall is the most appropriate way to pay tribute to the athletes during the Games in London."
The 1972 Munich Olympics were the first Games held in Germany since the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and were meant to erase the images of that competition held under the Nazi regime.
But in the second week of the Munich Games, eight members of the Black September militant group penetrated the minimally secured Olympic Village and took Israeli team members hostage. A day later, all 11 were dead.
German police killed five of the eight assassins during a failed rescue attempt.
The Games were briefly suspended.