NEWS
23/07/2012 12:59 BST

Olympic President Jacques Rogge Holds Memorial For Israeli Victims Of 1972 Munich Terror

The President of the International Olympic Committee has held a surprise minute’s silence to mark the 40th anniversary of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes, killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The memorial, which had previously been ruled out by the IOC, is the first time a ceremony has been held to remember the athletes in an Olympic venue or athletes’ village.

A worldwide campaign backed by US President Barack Obama, governments around the world and widows of the victims, had put significant pressure on the IOC.

President of the IOC Jacques Rogge walks under the Olympic rings in the Olympic Village, before the official opening of the Village in Stratford, east London

Mr Rogge paid tribute to the athletes at a ceremony at the Olympic village Monday, attended by Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Olympic organising committee, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

He said: "I would like to start today's ceremony by honouring the memory of 11 Israeli Olympians who shared the ideals and have brought us together in this beautiful Olympic Village.

"As the event of 40 years ago reminds us, sport is not immune from, and cannot cure, all the ills of the world."

Mr Rogge told reporters that the idea for a minute’s silence had been "spontaneous". But he has ruled out any plan to mark the anniversary during the opening ceremony.

Munich widows Ankie Spitzer and Illana Romano spearheaded a petition to lobby the IOC to hold a silence during the opening ceremony, attracting more than 100,000 names.

However David Kirschtel, chief executive of US Jewish community organisation JCC Rockland, which co-ordinated the petition, said he was not satisfied by Monday's gesture.

"Those Olympians were murdered on television in front of millions. And we should remember them on the world stage, at the opening ceremony, when millions are watching, not at a meeting where 100 people are in attendance."

The 11 athletes were killed after being held hostage by Palestinian Black September terrorists.

The widows plan to hand the petition to the IOC on Tuesday.