IOC Attacked at Munich Memorial
Ankie Spitzer speaking at the Munich Memorial (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
(ATR) Widows of two of the Israelis killed in the 1972 attack at the Munich Olympics deliver unrelenting criticism of IOC President Jacques Rogge at a ceremony in London to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the tragedy.
“Shame on you International Olympic Committee,” Ankie Spitzer declared to IOC President Jacques Rogge, seated in the front row of an audience at the Guildhall.
Seated with him was fellow IOC member and vice president Thomas Bach of Germany, as well as Walther Troeger, retired member from Germany – and mayor of the 1972 Munich Village.
Her speech was punctuated with three rounds of applause from an audience of more than 500, most of them Jewish, some among the most important business and professional leaders in London.
Spitzer’s husband Andre is one of the 11 Israeli Olympians who died in the onslaught Sep. 4 and 5, 1972 prompted by a squad of terrorists. She has kept up a campaign to win IOC recognition for a minute of silence for the 11 men, most recently through a meeting with Rogge ahead of the London opening ceremony.
IOC President Jacques Rogge; behind him are members of the 2012 Israeli Olympic Team (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
Spitzer was not the only one to slice the IOC and Rogge. Israeli sports minister Limor Livnat delivered the first salvo, followed by Spitzer and Ilana Romano, whose weightlifter husband was killed in Munich.
“You, Jacques Rogge, will be written down in the pages of history as a former athlete, who became a president, and violated the Olympic Charter calls for brotherhood, friendship and peace,” said Romano in Hebrew.
“Our requests to commemorate the victims have been rejected for 40 years for the following reasons: That it is not yet the time, fear of political involvement. Worst of all, that it was not registered in the protocol. Was it written in the protocol that our dear ones will return in coffins? Your way is the way of ignoring and denial,” Romano rebuked.
Rogge has declined to hold a moment to recognize the slain Israelis, saying the opening ceremony is not an appropriate place for a memorial.
He has told Munich survivors that the IOC has other occasions to commemorate the Munich attack.
He didn’t offer explanations in his remarks earlier in the program. Instead he recounted his own link to the tragedy as an athlete from the 1972 Games.
“I will never forget why we are here,” he said.
“Even after 40 years it is painful to relive the worst hours in the history of the Olympic Movement,” Rogge said.
“We owe it to them to keep their spirit alive and the Olympic Movement will continue more than ever to bring this message to future generations,” calling the 11 “Olympians”,
More than 500 attended the Munich Memorial at Guildhall
supposedly for the first time.
IOC Communications Director Mark Adams tells Around the Rings he had no comment on the outbursts against Rogge, other than noting that the IOC leader had been expecting to attend a “memorial service”.
Efraim Zinger, secretary general of the Israeli National Olympic Committee, tells ATR that “it took some courage for him to sit there tonight”.
Zinger says the tirades against Rogge were probably not entirely unexpected given the fruitless meeting Spitzer and Romano had with Rogge earlier this month. In comments to reporters after the program, Spitzer accused Rogge of “discrimination” and said fear of an Arab boycott of the Olympics were behind IOC intransigence on the moment of silence.
Prime Minister David Cameron addressed a reception ahead of the memorial and then left. He was represented at the memorial by Deputy PM Nick Clegg. Other speakers (whose rhetoric was measured) included opposition leader Ed Miliband and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. Mayor Boris Johnson took part in a candle-lighting ceremony. Johnson has been outspoken in a call for a moment of silence at the London Games.
The event was hosted by the Jewish Committee for the London Games.
Written and reported in London by Ed Hula.
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