As the world celebrated the 20th Summer Olympics in Munich in early September 1972, violence and tragedy struck. Eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team, including my husband, Andrei, were murdered in a terrible act of violence. As proud athletes, coaches, and referees, they travelled to Munich excited to represent their nation and their fellow Israelis, hoping to return as Olympic champions.
The world lost 11 Olympians as a result of this tragedy, and I lost my husband.
For the past 40 years, I, along with the families of the other ten victims, have called on the International Olympic Committee to honor our loved ones' memories by observing a minute of silence at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. We first asked for the minute of silence before the 1976 Montreal Olympics and, to our dismay, were denied. We've continued to be denied every Olympics since.
This year, Ilana Romano, whose husband Yosef Romano was also murdered during the incident, and I coordinated with the Jewish Community Center of Rockland County, New York, to launch a petition on Change.org for a minute of silence at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. With the Olympic games just days away, more than 100,000 people around the world have signed our petition and shared heartfelt comments about their support.
Many have said they support the minute of silence in the spirit of respect, world peace, and equality, and we wholeheartedly agree with them. Our campaign for a minute of silence at the 2012 London Olympics is not about religion, nor is it about divisive politics. This is about the memory of our loved ones, proud members of the Olympic family, whose lives were tragically lost.
In the United States, President Barack Obama, former Governor Mitt Romney, the U.S. Senate, and renowned sportscaster Bob Costas have publicly supported the minute of silence. Internationally, we've received support from the Australian and Canadian Parliaments, the German Bundestag, the Israeli government, and more. The support is truly astounding, yet the International Olympic Committee has not agreed to observing a minute of silence at this Friday's opening ceremonies.
After denying our 2012 request last week, the International Olympic Committee held a surprise tribute to the Munich 11 on Monday in London's Olympic Village. But neither I nor any of the other family members were asked to attend, even though we've been campaigning for a minute of silence for our lost loved ones for a full 40 years.
As we have in the past, we will continue pushing the IOC to grant this minute of silence, not just for us, but for the entire Olympic community and for the rest of the world. The minute of silence would honor the Munich 11's lives, but it would also serve as a global reminder of peace, unity, and respect. It would remind us all that what happened in Munich in 1972 must never happen again.
According to the Olympic Charter, the Olympic Spirit "requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play." A minute of silence for the Munich 11 at the opening ceremonies embodies that spirit fully.
Please join us as we continue to ask the International Olympic Committee to honor the lives of the Munich 11 at Friday's opening ceremonies in London.