Munich 11 widows Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano plan to meet privately with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge later today to personally deliver their request for a during Friday’s opening ceremonies of the London Olympics.
The meeting will take place after Spitzer, Romano and representatives of the JCC Rockland present the Minute of Silence Petition. The petition has received approximately 107,000 online signatures, including those of more than 150 world leaders, to IOC officials. According to the JCC Rockland, Rogge said "No" to their request for the Minute of Silence.
The petition is part of the widows’ 40-year effort to have a Minute of Silence observed during the Olympics to remember the 11 members of the Israeli delegation slain at the Munich Olympics in 1972 by Palestinian terrorists.
Led by Representatives Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) and Eliot Engel (D-Westchester/Bronx), members of Congress are speaking out against the IOC’s refusal to hold the Minute of Silence.
“I’ve been disappointed that the IOC has repeatedly denied these requests,” said Lowey today. “We must stand together to say that ‘we remember’.”
Lowey said the Minute of Silence would serve as a reminder to be constantly vigilant against hate and intolerance.
Engel said although IOC officials claimed the observance would bring politics into the games; it was political not to remember the athletes and coaches.
“I totally believe if this had happened to athletes of any other country but Israel, this would have happened 40 years ago,” he said. “There should be a Minute of Silence because these were victims participating in the Olympics. The only reason they haven’t done it in 40 years is because it’s Israeli athletes.”
Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) agreed with Engel’s assertion that denying the request was political. He described the IOC’s refusal as “inhuman.” He said there is precedent because in 2002, a flag commemorating the attacks of 9/11 was carried into the Salt Lake City Olympic Games to honor those victims.
American Olympic Athlete and Four Time Gold Medalist Lenny Krayzelburg spoke from the perspective of an Olympic athlete.
“The event is about peace, about humanity,” he explained. “When you walk through the Olympic Village there is no politics involved.”
“The whole world witnessed the tragedy happen in 1972,” said Krayzelburg, adding the entire world should experience the Minute of Silence that would recognize the Olympians who were killed.
JCC Rockland Vice President and Chair of the Minute of Silence Petition Steve Gold, who is in London with Spitzer, whose husband was slain fencing coach Andrei Spitzer, and Romano, widow of slain weightlifter Yossef Romano, to present the petition, said if the IOC does not change its mind, “It will show the world that they don’t care.”
Gold, who launched the JCC’s spearheading of the petition two years ago, said, “We’re hopeful. We all believe in miracles.”
He said they would remain optimistic through the start of the opening ceremonies.
Engel announced members of Congress will hold a press conference on the issue on the steps of the Capitol on Thursday morning. He also plans to speak about the effort and observe a Minute of Silence on the House floor.
Romano is reaching beyond the IOC for the remembrance and continuing her quest for public support and pressure. She is asking spectators asked to stand silently during the opening ceremonies while the IOC president speaks.