Widows of two of the 11 Israelis murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics finally got the official recognition they wanted from the International Olympic Committee during the first-ever IOC-led ceremony at the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro yesterday (August 3).

“This is closure for us. This is incredibly important. We waited 44 years to have this remembrance and recognition for our loved ones who were so brutally killed in Munich,” Ankie Spitzer, widow of fencing coach Andre, told reporters at the newly established Place of Mourning.

The Place of Mourning in the Olympic Village incorporates two stones from ancient Olympia encased in glass. The Place of Mourning will continue to be a feature at every Olympics.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach read out the names of each of the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches and the German policeman who died in the worst terror attack in Olympic history.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach hugs widows of murdered Israelis during memorial ceremony in Rio. Photo via Israel Olympic Committee/Facebook
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach hugs widows of murdered Israelis during memorial ceremony in Rio. Photo via Israel Olympic Committee/Facebook

Bach said the 1972 massacre “was an attack not only on our fellow Olympians but also an assault on the values that the Olympic Village stands for.”

The IOC president led a minute of silence at the Place of Mourning. He also hugged Spitzer and Ilana Romano, widow of weightlifter Yossef Romano.

“Today, the inauguration of the Place of Mourning give us the opportunity to remember those that have passed away at the Olympic Games,” said Bach.

Ilana Romano, widow of weightlifter Yossef Romano, and Ankie Spitzer, widow of fencing coach Andrei, add ribbons to a tree at the memorial site in Rio. Photo via Israel Olympic Committee/Facebook
Ilana Romano, widow of weightlifter Yossef, and Ankie Spitzer, widow of fencing coach Andre, add ribbons to a tree at the memorial site in Rio. Photo via Israel Olympic Committee/Facebook

“We wanted them to be really accepted as members of the Olympic family. Now that President Bach had a minute of silence in the Olympic village, calling out the names of our loved ones, this is closure for us. I cannot explain how emotional I am, how much this means for us,” said Spitzer.

“I never believed it’s going to come after 44 years,” said Romano. “This is a moment of history.”

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach poses with Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, widows of two of the 11 Israelis murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at the first-ever IOC-led memorial ceremony in Rio de Janeiro. Photo via Israel Olympic Committee/Facebook
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach poses with Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, widows of two of the 11 Israelis murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at the first-ever IOC-led memorial ceremony in Rio de Janeiro. Photo via Israel Olympic Committee/Facebook