LONDON – IOC president Jacques Rogge paid tribute Monday to the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed in Munich 40 years ago, leading a solemn minute of silence in the athletes village.
It was the first time the IOC has honored the slain Israelis in a ceremony inside an Olympic village.
Rogge has repeatedly rebuffed calls to hold a moment of silence during Friday’s opening ceremony of the London Games. He said Saturday the opening was not the appropriate place to remember the Israeli team members killed by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
On Monday, Rogge chose a different venue and occasion to hold a special observance.
“I would like to start today’s ceremony by honoring the memory of the 11 Israeli Olympians who shared the ideals that have brought us together in this beautiful Olympic Village,” Rogge said. “The 11 victims of the Munich tragedy believed in that vision.
“They came to Munich in the spirit of peace and solidarity. We owe it to them to keep the spirit alive and to remember them.”
Rogge bowed his head as a crowd of about 100 people – IOC executive board members, dignitaries and Olympic athletes and officials – stood in silence for a minute.
“As the events of 40 years ago remind us, sport is not immune from and cannot cure all the ills of the world,” Rogge said.
Rogge spoke from an outdoor stage during a ceremony promoting the Olympic Truce, a U.N.-backed initiative calling on warring parties around the world to end hostilities during the period of the games. Rogge and other officials signed the “truce wall” after the event.
Rogge and the International Olympic Committee have come under pressure from Jewish groups and politicians in the United States, Israel and Germany to honor the Munich victims during the opening ceremony.
“We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident,” Rogge said Saturday.
Rogge and the IOC will also honor the slain Israelis at a private reception in London during the games on Aug. 6. The IOC will also take part in a ceremony in Germany on the anniversary of the attack on Sept. 5, at the military airfield of Furstenfeldbruck, where most of the Israelis died.
■ ROYAL SCHEDULE – Attention Harry hunters: Britain’s young royals will be out and about in force during the games.
The royals’ Clarence House announced what events Prince Charles, his wife Camilla, Prince William and his wife Kate, and Prince Harry will attend.
All five will be at Friday’s opening ceremony, where 86-year-old Queen Elizabeth II will officially open the Olympics.
The queen on Monday welcomed members of the International Olympic Committee at Buckingham Palace and was presented with a set of medals by the organization’s president, Jacques Rogge.
Her grandsons William and Harry, along with Kate, are official ambassadors for the British Olympic team. They will all attend equestrian events – where the princes’ cousin and the queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips is a competitor – and will hand out medals to the winners.
Kate, now known as the Duchess of Cambridge, will be watching gymnastics and synchronized swimming, William will see a Team Great Britain soccer match, and Harry will drop by beach volleyball.
■ IRAN-ISRAEL CONFLICT – Iranian athletes will compete against Israelis at the London Olympics, according to the country’s chef de mission.
Iran has been criticized in the past because some of its athletes withdrew from events against Israelis at the 2004 Athens Games and 2008 Beijing Games.
“We will be truthful to sport,” said Bahram Afsharzadeh, who is also the secretary general of the Iranian Olympic committee.NBC’S COSTAS PLANS ON-AIR COMMEMORATION OF DEATHS
NEW YORK – NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas said he plans his own on-air commemoration this week of Israelis killed in Munich 40 years ago, despite the refusal of Olympic authorities to do so during Friday’s opening ceremony for the London Games.
A bid to honor the athletes and coaches killed by Palestinian gunmen during the 1972 games with a moment of silence has gained momentum recently, even drawing President Barack Obama’s support.
Costas, who called the International Olympic Committee’s decision baffling, told the Hollywood Reporter that he intends to note that denial on Friday when Israeli athletes enter the Olympic Stadium. Costas has been the lead host of NBC’s Olympics coverage for 20 years.
“Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive,” Costas said. “Here’s a minute of silence right now.”
Through a spokesman, Costas denied a request by The Associated Press to speak further about his plans. His comments to the Hollywood Reporter were made more than a month ago and published late last week, and NBC noted that things can change in the interim.
“Our production plans for (the) opening ceremony are still being finalized, and Bob is part of that planning,” NBC Sports Group spokesman Adam Freifeld said.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said support from Costas would be welcome. Foxman’s organization, which promotes Jewish causes, has backed an effort to bring notice to the Munich victims at opening ceremonies for years.
“I think he’s right, and I think it will make a difference because of who he is,” Foxman said. “It’s such a common sense thing to do.”
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS