07/26/2012 10:29 EDT | Updated 09/25/2012 05:12 EDT

Vancouver Olympian joins call for Munich massacre tribute

A former Olympic athlete from Vancouver is joining the call for the International Olympic Committee to acknowledge the victims of the massacre of Israeli team members at the 1972 Munich Summer Games.

A moment of silence has never been held during an Olympic games for the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches who were killed by Palestinian gunmen.

Karen James, who swam for Canada in 1972, says it's time to pay tribute at the opening of the 2012 summer games in London on Friday, 40 years after the event.

“At the beginning of the opening ceremonies they should acknowledge a terrible tragedy that occurred, and say never again will that happen under the Olympic umbrella, and stop for a minute of silence,” James told CBC News.

The widows of some of the Munich victims have presented the IOC with a petition.

James said the IOC’s reluctance to conduct such a memorial might be because the committee is worried about a backlash from Arab countries.

“If [the IOC] had acknowledged and agreed to it in the beginning, it wouldn't be political, but by refusing to do so, it's become a huge political deal,” James said.

Politicians, including Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, have also endorsed the effort.

“This is about humanity and honouring the memory of innocent athletes,” said James.

The 2012 Olympic summer games officially get underway in London on Friday.