London Olympics Will Not Mark Anniversary Of Munich Massacre

This year’s Summer Olympics mark the 40th anniversary of the massacre of the Israeli Olympic team by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympics and, despite another round of requests, the IOC has announced that they will not mark the anniversary during the Opening Ceremonies later this week:

The head of the International Olympics Committee again rejected calls for a moment of silence during the Games’ opening ceremony to honor Israeli Olympians killed in a terror attack at the 1972 Games.

“We feel that the Opening Ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident,” Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said Saturday.

Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, condemned that stance Sunday as “unfeeling” and “completely out of touch.”

More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition calling for a moment of silence in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed by Palestinian militants at the games in Munich, Germany, 40 years ago. A German policeman and five of the attackers also died.

President Barack Obama supports the campaign, the White House said Thursday.

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has also been a vocal proponent, campaigning on Facebook and Twitter for “Just One Minute” of silence.

The refusal of the IOC to back the plan “told us as Israelis that this tragedy is yours alone and not a tragedy within the family of nations,” Ayalon said in May.

Ankie Spitzer, whose husband Andrei was among those killed, was the first to sign the petition.

“They came to Munich in 1972 to play as athletes in the Olympics; they came in peace and went home in coffins,” she writes in the online plea.

So far at least, there is no official Olympic event scheduled during the games to mark the anniversary. This strikes me as more than just a little callous. One can understand the desire of Olympic officials to not wallow in misery over a 40 year-old event, but to fail to even mention an event that remains iconic in Olympic history comes across as pretty insensitive.

Incidentally, I was watching a recent interview with Mark Spitz, who had won the final of his seven Gold Medals the day before the hostage crisis began and he related the fact that the next day he was secretly spirited out of the country and flown to the United States under Secret Service protection. Being the most prominent athlete at the games that year, as well as an American Jew, there was apparently a concern that he could be in danger as well. That’s a story I hadn’t heard before.

Update: Bob Costas, who will once again be hosting NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremonies on Friday, has said that he will observe a moment of silence at some point during the ceremony. I suppose the most appropriate time would be when the Israeli team enters the stadium.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Sports, Terrorism
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    I’m not sure why you’d hold a commemoration of a tragedy like that. It has nothing to do with the participants of these Games, takes the spotlight off of them, and pretty makes takes the air out of the room. Not to mention that 40 isn’t a standard “big” anniversary, anyway.

  2. Jane2 says:

    What is so “special” about the 40th anniversary of a tragedy, any more so than the 39th, 36th, 27th, etc anniversary? What’s callous and insensitive is the typical US/Israeli lobby manipulation of something for their political agenda.

  3. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    So far at least, there is no official Olympic event scheduled during the games to mark the anniversary. This strikes me as more than just a little callous.

    The IOC say that they want to stay clear of politics, and if they want to stay true to that, then they shouldn’t mark the anniversary.

    @James Joyner:

    Not to mention that 40 isn’t a standard “big” anniversary, anyway.

    Since the Summer Olympics are held every four years, I guess 40 would be better than 48 or 52, or
    marking the anniversary during a Winter Olympic.

  4. @PJ:

    More importantly, stopping for something like this would cut into the all important IOC bribe collecting ceremonies

  5. Loviatar says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    More importantly, stopping for something like this would cut into the all important IOC bribe collecting ceremonies

    Standard Republican comeback, can’t make your point with facts so slander your opponent.

  6. Dude,

    Do some research. Starting with the bribes that were solicited by IOC members during the selection process for the 2002 Winter Games. The corruption of the IOC is a well documented fact.

  7. @PJ:

    The other point is that 2012 is the last time the Olympics will be held in an anniversary year until 2032, the 60th anniversary. Not likely many of the family members will still be around then.

  8. G.A. says:

    Can’t have a moment a silence for the murdered Israeli athletes?

    I think they should do it every time.

  9. matt says:

    Incidentally, I was watching a recent interview with Mark Spitz, who had one the final of his seven Gold Medals the day before the hostage crisis began

    Please fix that.

  10. Gah, apologies. Operating on short sleep today

  11. matt says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I won’t be offended if you delete my post now that you’ve corrected the error. You can even delete this post too so there’s utterly no evidence 🙂

    I did find the Mark Spitz comment at the end surprising. I hadn’t been aware he was even considered Jewish.

  12. Gustopher says:

    These are the 10th Olympic games since the massacre. It absolutely should be memorialized.

    To suggest otherwise is disgusting.

  13. matt says:

    Why does the 10th matter?

  14. Ernieyeball says:

    I think there should be at least a moment of silence in movie houses across the land very soon…

  15. al-Ameda says:

    Why not a moment of silence in remembrance of the 1972 tragedy?

    It was one of the most memorable tragedies in my lifetime, on the world stage – on par with the Challenger Disintegration, the assassinations of the Kennedys, MLK, and a few others.

    Have the moment prior to ramping up for the opening spectacular.

  16. al-Ameda says:

    @Jane2:

    What’s callous and insensitive is the typical US/Israeli lobby manipulation of something for their political agenda.

    What’s amazing is that a lobby might try to influence an organization for political purposes!

  17. Franklin says:

    This is one of those things where I could go either way. I’m not one who necessary thinks we have to commemorate every event every year, but it would be appropriate for the Olympics to commemorate this particular event once in a while. I certainly don’t think it’s “disgusting” that they’re not doing it, which is extreme hyperbole and pretending that random numbers are more special than they really are. On the other hand, the 50th anniversary would be during the Winter Olympics – would it seem appropriate to commemorate them then? How about the next time the Olympics is in Germany?

  18. Gustopher says:

    I’m generally as liberal as they come, and I hate to say this, but if you support not commemorating the massacre, if you support quietly brushing it under the rug… Then you support terrorism.

    I mean, this really is a completely obvious case. The Olympics are supposed to be about nations competing in a friendly sporting manner. They are supposed to promote peace and understanding. Use the memorial of the tragedy to educate, and to say that there are things that are completely unacceptable.

    To do otherwise is to accept it, and even condone it.

  19. tom says:

    @Jane2: You’re an absolute ass. There has NEVER been any recognition during ANY of the Olympic games that followed.