For the first time, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will lead a ceremony for the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches murdered by terrorists in the 1972 Munich Games.
For the past 44 years, Israel, the families of the victims, and many parliaments worldwide have called on the Olympic Committee to honor the Munich Massacre victims with an official minute of silence at the Opening or Closing ceremonies and give special recognition to the Israelis killed.
Widows of weightlifter Yossef Romano and fencing coach Andre Spitzer are expected to attend the memorial event in the athletes’ village in Rio.
“We never will give up our hope that there will be a moment of silence at the opening ceremony,” Ankie Spitzer, Andre’s widow, told the BBC.
Yael Arad, who won a silver Olympic medal for Israel in judo, told the BBC that the massacre in Munich “happened under the umbrella of the IOC” and that is why it is imperative for the international committee to host an official memorial to help ensure it “will never happen again.”
The IOC did not grant the minute’s silence request. It will today inaugurate a Place of Mourning in the Olympic village in Rio de Janeiro, which incorporates two stones from ancient Olympia encased in glass. The Place of Mourning will continue to be a feature at every Olympics.
The ceremony will commemorate the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed in the 1972 terror attack as well as the two victims of a bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Games and a Georgian luger who died in an accident at the 2010 Winter Olympics.