Coe: Why we need to remember the Munich massacre

By Danny Caro, February 23, 2012
Howard Leigh, Lord Coe and Steven Lewis

Howard Leigh, Lord Coe and Steven Lewis

Lord Coe has stressed how importantly he regards the 40-year commemoration of the Munich massacre at this summer's Olympics.

Interviewed after addressing 230 guests at a Jewish Care business breakfast on Wednesday, the chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games described the killing of Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Games as an "act of unspeakable barbarity".

He recalled that at the time of Munich, he was in his teens and making his way in athletics. "It was the first Games that I really followed with a view to hopefully one day being an Olympian."

For those who watched the Munich Games on television, the massacre was "seared in their memory. It was just the most awful intrusion into what should have been a celebration of sport and young people.

"I will do everything I can to be at the commemoration. It's very important."

We have Jewish volunteers at every level of London 2012

He thanked the Jewish community for supporting London 2012, pointing out: "We have lots of Jewish volunteers, including torch bearers, involved at every level of our organisation."

Hebrew-speaking volunteers would help Israeli visitors to find their way around the capital.

"It's very important that people recognise we're hosting 250 nations and more than 300 languages. We're also hosting an extraordinary range of cultural backgrounds and different service requirements. This is something we take very seriously."

Lord Coe added that Jewish competitors would be "looked after very well" in London. "We're going to have a village that by general assessment is probably the most exciting and best catered for at any Games." It was essential that athletes felt "we've left no stone unturned and that we give them the best possible environment to compete at the highest possible level".

The breakfast was held in Mansion House in the City and raised £55,000

Last updated: 3:34pm, February 23 2012