LONDON -- It's been clear over the years that IOC presidents don't like common folk telling them what to do. But Jacques Rogge, the current IOC prez, showed a lack of vision by refusing a request by widows of the 1972 Munich massacre to observe a moment of silence at Friday's Opening Ceremonies.
Widows of two of the 11 Israelis who were murdered by terrorists in Munich made their appeal in person to Rogge on Wednesday. The women brought a petition that had been signed by more than 100,000 people. Rogge, who had denied a request earlier, did so again.
“We are outraged by the denial of the request, which comes not only from us but from so many people around the world,” Ankie Spitzer, one of the two widows, said in a statement. “Our husbands were murdered at the Olympics in Munich. To observe a minute of silence in their memory would let the world know where the IOC stands in the fight against terrorism.”
In a small Monday ceremony, Rogge observed a minute of silence in memory of the Israelis.The widows feel he could do more. They're right. How difficult would it be to take one minute out of a ceremony of more than three hours to honor this request? These women have suffered for 40 years. It's a powerful thing to know they still feel this strongly 40 years later. Rogge should have deferred to them.
President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney have voiced their support for the cause. The organizers are asking attendees to stand for their own moment of silence Friday night when Rogge begins his speech. The IOC discourages political statements at the Games. But Rogge could have defused this by giving the widows their moment of silence. Instead, he is allowed a political issue to linger and possibly take away from a hotly anticipated Opening Ceremony.
You know what would be great? If Paul McCartney asked for a moment of silence for the Munich victims before singing Friday night.