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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Obama backs moment of silence at London games

White House official expresses "absolute support" for holding minute of silence for Israeli athletes murdered in Munich.

US President Obama in the Oval Office [file]Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed
US President Obama on Friday joined the campaign for a moment of silence at the London Olympics to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the massacre of 11 Israeli Olympians at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
“We absolutely support the campaign for a minute of silence at the Olympics to honor the Israeli athletes killed in Munich,” White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told Yahoo News in an email.
The families of the victims of the 1972 massacre have mounted a global campaign to get the International Olympic Committee to hold an official moment of silence at the Games -- something IOC officials already have rejected for this year and have never done in the past. However, IOC representatives have attended Israeli and Jewish-organized commemorations.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee earlier in the year on behalf of the families of the murdered athletes asking for a moment of silence, but was told that the IOC commemorates the incident by attending the memorial service held at every Olympic games by the Israeli delegation.
Unsatisfied, the Foreign Ministry launched a campaign around the world to get parliament members and governments to place pressure on the IOC to have a commemorative moment of silence for the athletes at the opening ceremony. The families of the 11 athletes have been trying to do this unsuccessfully since 1976, and this is the first year the ministry has become actively involved.
The ministry’s campaign has been augmented by an online petition the families have organized, which has already been signed by some 80,000 people.
Last month, the US Senate unanimously passed a resolution urging the International Olympic Committee to observe a moment of silence at the London games.