Olympics

Despite it all: remembering Munich

Even though official commemoration of the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes was excluded from the Olympics Opening Ceremonies Friday night, NBC’s Bob Costas provided a reminder to tens of millions of American viewers:

“The Israeli athletes now enter behind their flag-bearer Shahar Zubari,” said Costas. “These games mark the 40th anniversary of the 1972 tragedy in Munich, when 11 Israeli coaches and athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists. There have been calls from a number of quarters for the IOC to acknowledge that, 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. And, in fact, this week [IOC president] Jacques Rogge led a moment of silence before about 100 people in the athlete’s village. 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.”

Costas then pauses for about 12 seconds (an eternity in TV time) as the 39-person Israeli delegation – clad in their country’s blue and white – continued their march into the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium.

He then cut to a commercial break: “We’re back to London after this.”

Haaretz reports:

With a dyed-blue Star of David shaven into his hair, the 25-year-old windsurfer who brought home a bronze medal from Beijing in 2008, walked the Israeli delegation into the stadium.

Immediately after the team was shown on Israeli television, the faces of 11 Israeli Olympians who were slain in the Munich Massacre 40 years ago were shown. Their names were read out by the commentators and, following that, 30 seconds of silence were held in their commemoration.

According to several commenters below, the Israel contingent received cheers from the crowd as they entered the stadium.

The Jewish Chronicle reports:

Silences have been held around Britain to mark 40 years since 11 Israeli athletes were murdered during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

More than 20,000 people joined the Zionist Federation organised “Minute for Munich”, a virtual silence conducted by individuals wherever they were at 11am, that had been promoted on social media.

A short memorial service at the Israeli Embassy and planned by the ZF was streamed live online from 10.45am, in which the memorial prayer was recited and memorial candles were lit.

Around 200 people marked the Minute for Munich in Trafalgar Square. In front of journalists and television crews from around the world they waved British and Israeli flags before observing the minute’s silence.

The event was organised by the British Israel Coalition and other Israel advocacy groups. BIC’s Ari Soffer told the crowd: “The British Jewish community is showing its solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel.

“We should not allow this tragedy to go un-commemorated. This is a time to show our respect and remember the dead.”

Sarah adds: Here is a photograph (taken by Kolya).

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