Last updated: 25 July, 2012

Munich widows call for spontaneous silence

The widows of the 11 Israeli victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre called Wednesday for spectators at the opening ceremony of the London Games to hold a minute’s silence in their memory.

Ankie Spitzer, whose husband Andre was a fencing coach, appealed to the crowd to make their own stand on Friday after International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge refused to hold a minute’s silence during the ceremony.

“When Rogge starts talking… just the people in the stadium, if they could stand up for a minute, not make noise, as sign of their support,” said Spitzer at a press conference in a restaurant near the Olympic Park in London.

“Rogge will know that they do not stand up for him but he will understand that they stand up to honour the murdered athletes.”

Spitzer admitted that the call was “our last resort”.

Rogge held an impromptu minute’s silence when he toured the Athletes’ Village in London on Monday, but Spitzer dismissed the gesture.

“Our husbands died at an international stage and they should be remembered in front of millions of people who are going to watch the Games, not in a dark corner,” she said.

Spitzer was accompanied by Illana Romano, the widow of Yossef Romano, a weightlifter who was also killed when the hostage-taking by Palestinian extremists turned into a bloodbath at the Athletes Village in Munich.

Rogge has said the opening ceremony, which will feature a spectacular £27 million ($42 million, 34.5 million euro) show overseen by “Slumdog Millionaire” director Danny Boyle, was “an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident”.

But Spitzer has accused the IOC of being scared of provoking an Arab boycott.

Spitzer has delivered a petition of 105,000 signatures to Rogge. The campaign for a minute’s silence has the backing of US President Barack Obama.