London: The widow of one of the Israeli athletes killed by terrorists at the 1972 Munich Games has led a blazing attack on Jacques Rogge, the president of the IOC, as he was sitting uncomfortably through a London memorial service.
Ankie Spitzer, addressing an audience of senior British and Israeli politicians, blamed the IOC for blocking an Israeli request to hold a minute of silence at the opening ceremony for the 11 sportsmen and coaches murdered in Munich.
“Only the IOC remains deaf and blind,” she said turning from the podium at the Guildhall, London, to face Rogge.
“Is the IOC only interested in power, money and politics? Our loved ones came back in coffins yet they were part of the Olympic family...”
Members of the audience started to shout “Shame!” and Spitzer — whose husband, Andre, was the Israel fencing coach and a referee — took up the call. “Shame on you IOC because you have forgotten 11 members of the Olympic family,” she said. "You’re discriminating against them only because they are Israelis and Jews."
Rogge, who had earlier delivered a short, mild-mannered speech deploring terrorism, must have known that the event on Monday evening was not going to be an easy moment for him.
Limor Livnat, the Israeli minister of culture and sport, hit out not only at the IOC — “silence in the face of evil affords evil victory” — but also embarrassed Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, by claiming that German neo-Nazis were accomplices to the Palestinian Black September terror group in the Munich attack.
Mick Davis, the chief executive of Xstrata, the Anglo-Swiss mining company who is chairman of the United Israel Appeal, said: ‘We say to the IOC that to be silent is to be complicit.’
Although other speeches — notably those of David Cameron and Nick Clegg — sidestepped the thorny issue of the minute of silence, Rogge was left in no doubt that the campaign would roll on into the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
“We will come back until we hear the words you need to say because you owe them,” Spitzer said. The murdered sportsmen and coaches, she added, had to be honoured: “Not here in this beautiful Guildhall, not in the Hilton Hotel in Beijing, not in the backyard of our ambassador in Athens, but within the Olympic framework.”
There was a standing ovation for Spitzer, at least in the main body of the Guildhall. Rogge, a yachting Olympian in 1972, stayed in his seat.