It seems pressure remains high on IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge to honor the Munich 11. I couldn’t be gladder. I am not deluded enough to believe he will bow to international opinion, but I am heartened by the attention the issue has received.
In “Doing the Right Thing” and “Bearing the Torch”, Ken Kovacs and I presented our own reasons we felt honoring the Olympians slain in Munich in 1972 was a societal and moral imperative. We were far from alone in our pleas, and our voices joined many others, some of whose actions spoke louder than words.
Here are some examples of how people from all corners of the globe have made their opinions known.
1. Bob Costas followed through on plans to hold his own moment of silence during the opening ceremonies, while the Israeli athletes entered the stadium, in protest of the IOC’s refusal to do so.
2. At least 200 people held their own tribute in Trafalgar Square to the fallen athletes on the morning the London Olympics began. Over 20,000 were reported to participate in other venues throughout the host city.
3. More than 30 members of the Italian delegation held it’s own tribute to show solidarity with Israel and the familes of the slain athletes. They stood with members of the Israeli delegation outside the quarters of the Israeli athletes for a minute of silence.
4. 18-year-old Aly Raisman, the Jewish-American girl who captured gold with her floor routine (fittingly performed to “Hava Nagila”,) paid tribute to the Munich 11 in her interviews with reporters after her victory. She diplomatically, but pointedly, said she would have supported and respected a moment of silence had the IOC chosen to hold one.
5. Finally, ever the optimist, Former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler wrote to Mr. Rogge. He insisted it is not too late to do what is right. He asked Rogge to redeem himself by holding a moment of silence for the slain Israeli athletes and coaches during the Olympics’ Closing Ceremony. It’s a moving and poignant plea, which at the same time, pulls no punches in its analysis of what denying this request would signify.
I am not holding my breath. I am, however, moved and comforted that so many around the world have rallied to the sides of these families who suffered through the ultimate loss while the Games went on. From the bottom of my heart, I thank them.