Munich massacre widow calls for silence at London Olympics

The widow of one of the Israeli men murdered 40 years ago at the Munich Olympic Games has launched a petition asking for a commemorative silence to be observed during this summer's competition in London.

Ankie Spitzer, whose husband Andrei was one of 11 Israeli athletes, coaches and referees killed by terrorists from the PLO faction Black September at the September 1972 games, is urging the International Olympic Committee to agree to a cross-games silence to be held "in their memory".

"Just one minute - at the 2012 London Summer Olympics and at every Olympic Game, to promote peace," said Mrs Spitzer, who has arranged the petition with the help of New York's Rockland Jewish Community Centre.

The families of the Munich victims have repeatedly requested such commemorations to be arranged for the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games, going back to 1976, but have been turned down every time.

"The 11 murdered athletes were members of the Olympic family; we feel they should be remembered within the framework of the Olympic Games," she said.

Her husband, an Israel Air Force veteran, was Israel's top fencing coach when he was killed at the age of 27. Just weeks before he flew to Munich for the Olympics, Ms Spitzer, who was his former fencing pupil, gave birth to their daughter Anouk.

The terrorists killed two Israeli athletes and took nine others hostage in an overnight raid on the Olympic village. The remaining captives were murdered during a rescue attempt by German police.

"These men were sons; fathers; uncles; brothers; friends; teammates; athletes," said Ms Spitzer. "They came to Munich in 1972 to play as athletes in the Olympics; they came in peace and went home in coffins.

"Silence is a fitting tribute for athletes who lost their lives on the Olympic stage. Silence contains no statements, assumptions or beliefs and requires no understanding of language to interpret."

Ms Spitzer said she had no political or religious agenda, "just the hope that my husband and the other men who went to the Olympics in peace, friendship and sportsmanship are given what they deserve.

"One minute of silence will clearly say to the world that what happened in 1972 can never happen again."

More than 3,500 people have already signed the online petition. The 40th anniversary of the massacre is to be marked at the games with a plaque set to be unveiled in Hackney during the event.

Last updated: 11:18am, April 23 2012