Israel sports minister: Munich memorial must be part of Olympic opening ceremony
We must 'remind the free world what can happen when we let our guard down,' Regev says at Rio ceremony
Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev on Sunday praised the International Olympic Committee for marking the 1972 Munich Olympics tragedy during which 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists, but said that more needs to be done to honor the memory of those who perished, the Times of Israel reported.
Regev was speaking at a commemoration ceremony held at the Rio De Janeiro city hall for the slain Israelis, which was attended by Israeli, Brazilian and Olympic officials, as well as family members of the Israeli victims, according to the Times of Israel.
Regev said that such memorial ceremonies must become part of every Olympics opening ceremony, the report said.
“This ceremony is not enough,” the minister said at the event, according to the Times of Israel. “The grief for the Munich athletes does not belong only to the families, only to Israel, only to the Jewish people. It is a tragedy also for the IOC which will have a black flag flying.”
Regev said that such ceremonies must become an integral part of the Olympic Games opening ceremony "to remind the free world what can happen when we let our guard down."
A total of 11 Israeli Olympic team members were taken hostage during the Olympics in Munich and eventually killed, along with a German police officer, by the Palestinian group Black September. The games were suspended for a day and then carried on.
Two days before the 2016 Games officially began in Rio, family members of the Israeli victims were joined by officials at a ceremony at the Olympic village in Rio, marking the culmination of a long struggle for official recognition of the tragedy.
The ceremony, which included a minute's silence, was led by IOC President Thomas Bach, who inaugurated the Place of Mourning, which will now be a feature at every Olympics, with two stones from ancient Olympia encased in glass in a leafy part of the athletes' village.
Ankie Spitzer, whose husband Andre, a fencing coach, was killed in the massacre, told reporters that the ceremony marked a "closure" for her and other family members. "This is incredibly important," she said. "We waited 44 years to have this remembrance and recognition for our loved ones who were so brutally killed in Munich,"
"That they would be really accepted as members of the Olympic family," she added. "It is what we wanted because they were members of the Olympic family."
Ever since the massacre, the IOC has faced repeated criticism from across the world that it has not done enough to honor the victims.
Last year the IOC announced that it would set up a special place for athletes to commemorate the memory of those who died. Alex Gilady, Israel's member of the IOC commented on the decision at the time saying it was "a good and positive step by the members of the International Olympic Committee. The ability to see the issue not only through Israeli eyes, but through a wider view, represents a change and a big step forward."