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London 2012: Rogge stages minute's silence for 1972 victims

“They came to Munich in a spirit of peace and solidarity. The debt we owe them is to maintain this spirit in life and to remember them.”

Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire/Press Association Images

INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE (IOC) president Jacques Rogge on Monday held an unscheduled and personal minute’s silence to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Munich Olympic attacks which left 11 Israeli athletes dead.

Rogge, who had already ruled out a formal minute’s silence at Friday’s opening ceremony of the London Olympics, staged the impromptu commemoration as he toured the Athletes Village.

“I want to pay homage to the 11 Israeli athletes who shared the idea of the Olympic truce, who believed that the Olympic Village was a place which brought people together,” said Rogge, as he broke off from his own speech in front of the Olympic Truce Wall sculpture at the Village entrance.

“These 11 athletes came to Munich in this spirit. At this very moment that I am speaking athletes from all countries, cultures and different languages have arrived here to live together.

“This is the mission of our movement. The 11 victims of the Munich tragedy believed in this vision. They came to Munich in a spirit of peace and solidarity.

“The debt we owe them is to maintain this spirit in life and to remember them.”

Belgium sailor Rogge, who was competing against an Israeli yachtsman on the day of the killings, said the attack by Palestinian militants in September 1972 in Munich demonstrated sport was not immune from such violence.

“Those events 40 years ago make us painfully aware that sport is not immune and cannot cure all the illnesses of the world, but it can sort out differences and bring people together.”

While his tour of the Athletes Village was conducted with other IOC members, as well as London Games organisers, there were no Israelis present.

Instead the widows of an athlete and a coach killed in the attack are travelling to London to present a petition to the IOC on Tuesday before holding a press conference at the Israeli embassy on Wednesday.

Rogge said on Saturday there would be no minute’s silence at the opening ceremony.

“We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident,” he explained.

Rogge, however, believed the IOC were going to commemorate it in a more suitable fashion, including a pilgrimage to the airfield where several of the Israeli team, five of the militants and a German policeman were killed in a chaotic shoot-out.

“We plan to assist the meeting organised by the National Olympic Committee of Israel and there will be various IOC delegates there,” said the 70-year-old Rogge.

“We will also be present on the exact day of the killings, on 5 September, at the military airport of Furstenfeldbruck where the killings actually happened, and that is what we are going to do.”

(c) AFP, 2012

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