And so the Games of the XXX Olympiad are done. And, to the end, Jacques
Rogue Rogge and the IOC continued to stonewall the families of the Munich 11: Israeli athletes savagely murdered at the XX Olympiad in Munich in 1972.
For almost 40 years now, the families have asked for a moment of silence at the Opening Ceremonies in memory of 11 athletes killed by Palestinian terrorists.
But, in the end, the IOC’s shameful silence doesn’t much matter.
Oh, in one very important way, of course, it matters hugely. It leaves the families of the murdered men with an aching open wound that will not heal. Guri Weinberg, son of slaughtered wrestler Moshe Weinberg, tells in a haunting article of a 1996 meeting of Munich widows and orphans with Alex Gilady, senior vice president of NBC Sports and a member of the IOC:
Gilady informed us that a moment of silence was not possible because if the IOC had a moment of silence for the Israeli athletes, they would also have to do the same for the Palestinians who died at the Olympics in 1972.
My mother said, “But no Palestinian athletes died.”
Gilady responded, “Well, there were Palestinians who died at the 1972 Olympics.”
I heard one of the widows say to Gilady, “Are you equating the murder of my husband to the terrorists that killed him?”
Then Ilana Romano burst out with a cry that has haunted me to this day. She screamed at Gilady, “How DARE you! You KNOW what they did to my husband! They let him lay there for hours, dying slowly, and then finished him off by castrating him and shoving it in his mouth, ALEX!”
. . . Without a hint of empathy, Gilady excused himself from our meeting.
Because of Ilana Romano and Guri Weinberg and all those who love the murdered athletes, it matters.
But, in another very important way, it really doesn’t.
It’s a reminder that the IOC isn’t able to shut down truth, justice and compassion. Never has been. Never will be.
It’s a reminder that speaking the truth with love is always up to you and me.
NBC Olympics anchor Bob Costas
Bob Costas observed a moment of silence in front of over 40 million viewers during the Opening Ceremonies. He had said he would note that “many people” find the IOC’s refusal to honor the Munich 11 “insensitive.” Sadly, he watered down even that gentle rebuke on air.
There have been calls from a number of quarters for the IOC to acknowledge [the Munich Massacre] with a moment of silence at some point in tonight’s ceremony. The IOC denied that request noting it had honored the victims on other occasions. Still, for many, tonight with the world watching is the true time and place to remember those who were lost and how and why they died.
He followed that with five seconds of silence, then cut to a commercial break.
Well, yeah. As international pressure mounted to show some spine, Rogge did mention the murdered athletes.
In front of 100 people.
At a meeting about something else.
A couple of days before the Games began.
But, even watered down, Costas’ remarks were certainly better than what the families of the Munich 11 got from the IOC.
The Italian Olympic Team
The Italian Olympic Team observed a moment of silence in front of the Israeli Olympic Team’s quarters in memory of the murdered athletes.
American gymnast Aly Raisman
Eighteen-year-old Aly Raisman showed a golden mettle after winning her second–and first individual–gold medal.
After winning gold in women’s floor exercises to the beat of the beloved Hebrew folk song Hava Nagila, Raisman told reporters:
Having that floor music wasn’t intentional. But the fact it was on the 40th anniversary [of the massacre] is special, and winning the gold today means a lot to me. If there had been a moment’s silence, I would have supported it and respected it.
The Munich 11: The list goes on
Hundreds of world leaders have spoken out against the silence of the IOC.
The pilot of a Virgin Airlines flight over Germany announced to his passengers that he and the crew were going to hold a moment of silence for the athletes murdered in Munich.
And of course there are the over 110,000 signatures on widow Ankie Spitzer’s petition.
And every one of them illustrates the power of the individual–of you, of me–to light a candle against the darkness. Jacques Rogge can’t stop one person determined to speak out against evil. No government or organization in the world can stop one person determined to live with integrity.
Would there have been much moral power in a forced acknowledgement by an IOC that still didn’t give a rip?
Does a young gymnast pausing in her moment of glory to honor athletes who died long before she was born carry moral power?
Do over 100,000 people pausing, of their own free will, to honor the memory of the Munich Eleven carry moral power?
Hard to know, in the grand scheme of things.
But I can tell you this: Revolutions have been sparked by less.