Could you spare one minute, Mr Rogge?
Posted Tuesday, July 3 2012 at 18:52
Forty years ago, during the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were brutally massacred in a well-coordinated terrorist attack perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists.
During the 40 years, and nine Summer Olympic Games which have passed since 1972, a memorial service for the victims of this horrendous act of terror has never been held during any of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games.
One minute. That is all the families are asking for. Sixty seconds and not a second more.
Just imagine how quickly 60 seconds pass: By the time you finish reading this article, more than 60 seconds will have passed by. There are 3,600 seconds in one hour, 60 minutes in one hour, and 1,440 minutes in 24 hours.
The upcoming Summer Olympic Games in London will last for approximately 24,480 minutes. However, the International Olympic Committee, led by Mr Jaques Rogge, has been reluctant to spare even one of them for commemorating the 11 Israeli athletes who were massacred in Munich.
Forty years have passed since that dreadful day in 1972. Forty years and not a day goes by when Oshrat Romano, who was only six years old when her father, weightlifter Yosef Romano, was butchered while representing Israel in Munich, is not haunted by the attack.
Oshrat doesn’t need this one minute in order to remember her father; for her, the memory is constant and daily, a memory that follows her wherever she goes.
But for many others throughout the world, and apparently to the IOC, reminding the world of this awful episode in the history of the Olympics is not worthy. Apparently, this incident must be forgotten as if it never occurred.
And it’s not that there hasn’t been a precedent for commemorating the memory of fallen athletes at the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games.
During the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, a moment of silence was observed for Nodar Kumaritashvili, a young Georgian luger, who had died after a terrible training accident just a few hours earlier.
This poignant and emotional tribute was led by none other than Mr Rogge. Over the past few months, since the families of the 11 athletes initiated their campaign, scores of international politicians and dignitaries have joined them in demanding that a minute of silence be observed during the opening ceremonies in London.
Among those joining the campaign are politicians from the UK, Canada, and Belgium, as well as the entire US House Foreign Affairs Committee, which passed a unanimous decision on the matter.
Many well-known international journalists and columnists have also joined. Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has been co-ordinating the international campaign titled: “Just One Minute”.
It is our hope that numerous other high-ranking officials, including local influential politicians and the heads of the Olympic Committees in East Africa, will join our demand for “Just One Minute” in London 2012, bringing a long overdue justice for the “Munich 11” and their loved ones.
Mr Lopez is the deputy ambassador of Israel in Nairobi.