Call to the International Olympic Committee

No, this isn’t about the Games-Formerly-Known-as-the-Ravelympics.

Forty years ago, at the Summer Olympics in Munich, eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were massacred by members of a terrorist group.   Five of the eight members of Black September were killed by police officers during a failed rescue attempt. The three surviving assassins were captured, but later released by West Germany following the hijacking by Black September of a Lufthansa airliner.   They received a heroes welcome on their return to Libya.

There was a memorial service after the murders, and since then there has been no mention of it at any of the games.  Following the memorial service, the remaining members of the Israeli team withdrew from the Games and left Munich. All Jewish sportsmen were placed under guard. Mark Spitz, the American swimming star who had already completed his competitions, left Munich during the hostage crisis (it was feared that as a prominent Jew, Spitz might be a kidnapping target). The Egyptian team left the Games the next day, stating they feared reprisals.  The Philippine and Algerian teams also left the Games, as did some members of the Dutch and Norwegian teams.   American marathon runner Kenny Moore, who wrote about the incident for Sports Illustrated, quoted Dutch distance runner Jos Hermens as saying, “You give a party, and someone is killed at the party, you don’t continue the party. I’m going home.”   Many athletes, dazed by the tragedy, similarly felt that their desire to compete had been destroyed, although they stayed at the Games.  The Games went on as scheduled.

For forty years, the families of those killed have asked the International Olympic Committee to observe a minute of silence, in their memory.

Ankie Spitzer, the widow of Andrei Spitzer, has posted an appeal for people to sign a petition asking the International Olympic Committee to observe a moment of silence for the murdered Olympians.  In part, they are:

…asking for one minute of silence for the memory of the eleven Israeli athletes, coaches and referees murdered at the 1972 summer Olympics in Munich.   Just one minute — at the 2012 London Summer Olympics and at every Olympic Game, to promote peace.

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

The families of the Munich 11 have worked for four decades to obtain recognition of the Munich massacre from the International Olympic Committee.   We have requested a minute of silence during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics starting with the ’76 Montreal Games.   Repeatedly, these requests have been turned down.   The 11 murdered athletes were members of the Olympic family; we feel they should be remembered within the framework of the Olympic Games.

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.

I have 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. Please do not let history repeat itself.

40 years is long enough to wait.

A request asking for a permanent tribute to those killed has been refused again and again.  The IOC has declined to act, saying that to introduce a specific reference to the victims could “alienate other members of the Olympic community,” according to the BBC.   

With two weeks to go until the Olympic Games in London, more signatures are needed for this petition, found here.

Please add your name.



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One Response to “Call to the International Olympic Committee”

  1. Esther Says:

    I signed

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