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Munich Widows Call for Silent Protest at Opening Ceremony

Widows of the athletes who were murdered in Munich call on the audience to stand when IOC head is invited to speak at the opening ceremony.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/26/2012, 5:45 AM

Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano present a petition for the minute of silence to reporters
Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano present a petition for the minute of silence to reporters
Reuters

The widows of two of the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered by terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics have called for a silent protest at this Friday’s opening ceremony of the games in London.

Kol Yisrael radio reported on Wednesday that Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano called on the audience to stand up and not applaud when the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, is invited to speak at the opening ceremony.

The IOC has rejected calls to hold a moment of silence for the 11 athletes at the opening ceremony. Rogge said on Saturday that the opening ceremony is “not fit” to remember the Munich Massacre.

“We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident,” stated Rogge. He tried to soften the blow to Israelis and Jews around the world by reminding them that the IOC will visit the airfield where some Israeli team members were killed.

On Tuesday, Spitzer and Romano presented Rogge with a petition that has garnered more than 103,000 signatures requesting the IOC honor the athletes’ memories with a moment of silence. The petition, which was started by Spitzer and Romano in conjunction with the Jewish Community Center Rockland County, New York, has sparked an outpouring of support from around the world.

The two widows held a press conference in London on Wednesday. During the conference, which was hosted by Israel’s Ambassador to London Daniel Taub, they demanded once again that the IOC grant a moment of silence and expressed outrage at its recent denial of their request.

“The families of the Munich 11 have been asking the IOC to commemorate the deaths of their loved ones almost since the horrific event took place nearly 40 years ago. They have been rejected every time,” said a statement released by JCC Rockland Wednesday. “The IOC has claimed that doing so would bring politics into the Olympics.

“The London Olympics mark the tenth set of games and 40 years since the Israelis were murdered,” added the statement. “The family members have been asking that the IOC do the right thing and hold one silent minute in their memory. With only two days to go, they want to impress upon IOC officials that they can change their decision and finally do the right thing.”

London mayor Boris Johnson seemed to disagree with the IOC’s decision earlier this week, responding to a question posted on his Twitter account, “Believe me we will have [a moment of silence.] Was stunned to find Barcelona (20 anniversary) had nothing.”

NBC sportscaster Bob Costas said on Monday he plans to call out the IOC for denying Israel's request for a moment of silence.

Costas intends to make his remarks as the Israeli delegation enters the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony.

“I intend to note that the IOC denied the request,” he said. “Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive. Here's a minute of silence right now.”

The moment of silence for the 11 athletes has also been supported by U.S. President Barack Obama as well as by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Congressman Eliot Engel accused the IOC on Wednesday of being afraid to offend Arab nations and thus refusing to pay tribute to the victims during the opening ceremonies.

Steve Gold, who helped to lead the petition that was handed to Rogge, warned there could be a spontaneous demonstration among the 60,000 people in the Olympic Stadium on Friday if Rogge did not change his mind.