International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge gives a press conference at the Olympic Park, east of London. Rogge refused on Saturday to budge over his body's refusal to hold a minute's silence for the Israeli team members murdered at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. © Carl de Souza - AFP
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge
Pirate Irwin, AFP
Last updated: July 22, 2012

Rogge stands firm over Israeli memorial

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge refused on Saturday to budge over his body's refusal to hold a minute's silence for the Israeli team members murdered at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

There have been increasing calls for the IOC to allow a minute's silence for the Israelis who were killed by members of the Black September Palestinian terror group both at the athletes village and then in a shootout with German security forces at a nearby airfield.

Five of the terrorists and one German policeman were also killed and the pursuit of the masterminds behind the tragedy inspired the blockbuster film 'Munich' directed by Steven Spielberg.

But despite even an appeal by US President Barack Obama to hold such a memorial Rogge insisted that no such thing would take place.

"We are going to pay a homage to the athletes, of course, as we always have done in the past and will do in the future," said Rogge, who competed in yachting at the 1972 Olympics.

"We plan to assist the meeting organised by the National Olympic Committee of Israel and there will be various IOC delegates there and 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."

Rogge, who steps down next year after 12 years in the post, said the IOC did not believe the backdrop to holding such a memorial was the right one and that making a rare pilgrimage to the airfield itself was more appropriate.

"We feel that the Opening Ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident."

Rogge, who succeeded long time incumbent Juan Antonio Samaranch in 2001, said that they did take into account calls by politicians such as Obama when taking such delicate decisions.

"We always listen carefully to comments made by politicians and from other parts of society and we certainly take those into consideration," he said.

His comments will not go down well with veteran sports commentator Bob Costas, who works for the American TV network NBC whose billions paid out for TV rights are hugely important to the IOC.

"I intend to note that the IOC denied the request," he told The Hollywood Reporter.

"Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive. Here's a minute of silence right now," Costas said.

The Israeli government wrote to the IOC in April to ask that the Games begin with a moment of silence, but the IOC said while there would be some form of commemoration, it would not come during the opening ceremony.

NBC has had a long-term relationship with the IOC, telecasting every Summer Olympics to American viewers since 1988 in Seoul and every Winter Olympics since 2002 in Salt Lake City.

NBC last year bid $4.38 billion for the broadcast rights across all media platforms for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics and the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and the 2020 Summer Olympics in a host city still to be determined.

In 2003, NBC bid $2.2 billion for the rights to the 2010 Winter Games and the London Games.

blog comments powered by Disqus