Momentum is increasing for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to observe a Minute of Silence for the slain Munich 11 athletes and coaches at the upcoming London Olympics. An online petition calling for the Minute of Silence on the 40th anniversary of the massacre reached 100,111 signatures on Thursday. The White House announced President Barack Obama joins other world leaders in supporting Israel’s request.
Munich 11 widows Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano and Rockland JCC (Jewish Community Center) CEO David Kirschtel, JCC Rockland Minute of Silence Campaign Chair Steve Gold and JCC Rockland Board Member Micki Leader will hand-deliver the petition to the IOC in London on Tuesday, July 24.
“I and the families are heartened by such an incredible outpouring of support,” said Spitzer. Her husband, Andrei Spitzer, was the Israeli fencing coach, murdered along with his teammates in 1972. “We have reached an incredible milestone with so many signatures, but we will not stop until we reach our goal and the IOC recognizes that our loved ones need to be remembered at the opening ceremony.”
The Jewish Community Center in Rockland County has been working with the families for two years on the minute of silence. The JCC has dedicated its hosting of the JCC Maccabi Games, a teen athletic event starting on August 12, to the memory of the Munich 11.
“One hundred thousand is an incredible number to support a 40-year-old cause,” said Gold. “We’re thrilled we reached our goal, but we aren’t going to stop until we get satisfaction from the IOC.”
The IOC has repeatedly refused the request and maintains there will not be a memorial at the London Games, which open on Friday, July 27.
The petition was posted in mid-April on change.org and has brought worldwide attention to the 40-year-old cause.
In addition to the 100,011 signatures, the petition has attracted worldwide attention and legislative and government support around the globe from Israel, United States, Canada, Italy, Australia, Great Britain and other countries. The families of the Israelis, who were murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the XX Olympiad in Munich, have been seeking a memorial minute during the opening ceremony of the Olympics since the Montreal games in 1976.
Spitzer, Romano, the other families and JCC Rockland vow to continue to push for a minute of silence until the IOC reconsiders its decision.
NBC Sportscaster Bob Costas who will be covering the games said he intends to speak about the IOC denial as the Israeli delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremonies.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) issued a statement on President Obama’s support.
“I am pleased the President Obama has added his voice to our calls to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to observe a minute of silence to honor the Munich 11 at the opening ceremonies of this year’s Olympics. I am disappointed that so far, the IOC has refused to do so. A minute of silence would honor the memories of the Israeli athletes, coaches, and referees who lost their lives while representing their nation at the 1972 Olympics, and it would remind the world of the terrible consequences of hatred and intolerance."