The International Olympic Committee
(IOC) rejected on Tuesday a request by the families of the Israeli athletes murdered in Munich
in 1972 to hold a moment of silence to mark 40 years since their slaughter during the opening ceremony of this summer's games in London.
"The International Olympic Committee has held official memorials for the athletes a number of times," wrote IOC President Jacques Rogge. "The memory of the victims of the horrible slaughter in Munich in 1972 will never fade in the Olympic family."
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Rogge added that he "had to" deny the request but said that the IOC would be present at the memorial ceremonies organized by the Israeli delegation.
IOC President Jacques Rogge: Their memory will never fade. (Photo: AP)
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon
has also voiced his support for an official moment of silence and a month ago sent a letter to the IOC in which he wrote: "A moment of silence will send a clear message that we must not forget the terrible events 40 years ago in Munich, lest they happen again."
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor characterized the IOC's denial as "polite but firm."
"It's a shame that the IOC isn't worried about the entire Olympic family, since the awful attack was contrary to the Olympic spirit," Palmor added.
One of the most iconic images from the Munich terror attack. (Photo: Getty Images)
An IOC spokesman said that he was working in close cooperation with the Israel Olympic Committee on the memorial ceremony scheduled to take place in London
and said that the event would be the "most appropriate place" to commemorate the Munich attack and that similar ceremonies were held at every Olympic Games.
The Munich terror attack began in the early hours of September 5, 1972, when eight members of the Palestinian Black September
group broke into the Olympic village and took 11 Israelis hostage, demanding the release of 234 Palestinian prisoners.
Among the Israelis killed was fencing coach Andre Spitzer. His widow Anki has lobbied for almost 40 years for a moment of silence at the opening ceremony of each Olympics. "As far as I'm concerned, the fight isn't over until the opening ceremony," Anki said in response to the IOC's decision.
"The IOC has refused for 40 years, but I still hope that they will change their mind."
The Israel Olympic Committee said in response that "After 40 years, it's time for the Olympic movement to recognize the 11 athletes, coaches, and referees who were murdered during the games as victims of the Olympic movement and the IOC. The right way to honor their memory will be found."
"The Israel Olympic Committee believes that the disaster is an inseparable part of the Olympic movement. The IOC has a moral obligation to honor their memory appropriately, and pass their legacy on to the new generation."