Details of the International Olympic Committee’s plans to honour the victims of the Munich massacre in Rio have been presented to the families by the organisation’s new president.
Thomas Bach today met two of the widows from the 1972 attack which claimed the lives of 11 athletes and coaches in the darkest moment in the history of the Games.
He confirmed that a major ceremony would be conducted inside the Olympic village days before the opening ceremony, during which the victims’ names will be read out in front of families, athletes and journalists. In a mourning area set up in the Village throughout the two-week event, a stone brought from Olympia will be placed on top of a monument, in a nod to Jewish tradition.
Following an “extremely warm” meeting lasting more than two hours at IOC headquarters in Lausanne with Bach and his deputy, Ankie Spitzer hailed the “historic and courageous” steps taken by the IOC.
“It’s much more than we’ve had before. We hope it will teach young athletes who may not be aware about the darkest days in the history of the Olympics. Our message is that it must not happen again. From the moment he came to office Thomas Bach wanted to do something.” Spitzer, who was joined by Ilana Romano, said Bach was “moved” to learn for the first time of the invitation that the families had issued to the Palestinian delegation to a commemoration organised by the Israeli Olympic Committee at the Atlanta Games in 1996.
The families have spent decades campaigning for a tribute during the Games opening ceremony – with a petition ahead of the London Olympics gaining tens of thousands of supporters.
A moment of reflection will be held during the closing ceremony to enable participants and viewers to remember loved ones but no plans have been revealed to explicitly mention the Munich victims as the families would like to see.
But Spitzer, whose husband Andre was among 11 who lost their lives, said she had not given up hope of such a tribute being incorporated into the moment.