IOC's Rogge holds Munich memorial but stands firm on official silence

By Jennifer Lipman, July 23, 2012
Eleven Israelis and a West German policeman died at the 1972 Games

Eleven Israelis and a West German policeman died at the 1972 Games

The president of the International Olympics committee has observed a silence in memory of the Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics.

Jacques Rogge, who has repeatedly refused calls to hold an official silence during the Games themselves, reportedly staged the memorial in the athletes' village on Monday morning.

Speaking to a crowd that included London mayor Boris Johnson, Lord Coe, chairman of the London Olympic organising committee and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, he said he wanted to honour the memory "of the 11 Israeli Olympians who shared the ideals that have brought us together in this beautiful Olympic village".

He said that IOC owed it to those Israelis who "came to Munich in the spirit of peace and solidarity" to keep the spirit of the Olympics alive "and to remember them".

More than 103,000 people have backed a petition set up by Ankie Spitzer – widow of murdered fencing coach Andre Spitzer – urging the IOC to hold a formal minute's silence. President Barack Obama and London mayor Boris Johnson are just some of the prominent figures who have offered their support for the move.

But Mr Rogge said earlier this week that the Opening Ceremony was "an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident," Jacques Rogge. He was described as "unfeeling" and "completely out of touch" by World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder.

"I'd like to thank Jacques Rogge and the IOC for what was an appropriate, heartfelt observation of remembrance at the Truce Wall in the Olympic Village," said Mr Johnson. "It was an honour to be part of the IOC's moment of reflection.

"The tragic events that unfolded in Munich 40 years ago should never be forgotten. The 11 Israeli competitors and coaches who died believed in the core Olympic ideals of excellence, respect and friendship, ideals so palpably lacking in those who visited horror on the Olympic Village in 1972."

Last updated: 4:43pm, July 23 2012