U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA) sent a letter to Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), expressing disappointment at the IOC's refusal to honor the Israeli athletes who were brutally murdered in Munich, Germany during the 1972 Olympic Games, and calling on the IOC to reconsider its decision.
May 23, 2012
Dr. Jacques Rogge
International Olympic Committee
Château de Vidy
1007 Lausanne, Switzerland
Dear President Rogge:
We write to express our disappointment with the International Olympic Committee's refusal of requests for a minute-long moment of silence at the 2012 Olympic Games in memory of the 11 Israeli Olympians who were taken hostage and killed by Palestinian violent extremists at the 1972 Games in Munich. President Rogge, is one minute too much for the IOC to spend in remembrance of the 11 innocent lives brutally cut short at the 1972 Games?
The most eloquent and fitting tribute that the IOC could provide would be to open the Games with one minute of silence in memory of the Israeli Olympians, as the Government of Israel and family members of the murdered Olympians have requested. The IOC's refusal--not only of the present request for a minute-long moment of silence but of similar requests for past Games--is indefensible. Your refusal has caused sorrow and anger for the family members of the murdered Olympians, for the people of Israel, and for many other people across the globe. Many of us have not forgotten that when the IOC held a service after the murder of the Israeli Olympians in 1972, your predecessor as President of the IOC failed even to mention them in his remarks. The IOC's actions on this matter since then have done little to erase that memory.
President Rogge, what is the harm of spending just one minute in memory of the murdered Olympians, with billions watching worldwide? The benefits are clear. Such a gesture would be a small tribute to the memory of families of those brave Olympians, who deserve much more than that. But it would do even more than that: it would do credit of the Olympic Games, the IOC, and all Olympians. It would reaffirm Olympic values of honor, harmony, and fraternity, the very values that violent extremists horrifically repudiated by butchering the Israeli Olympians.
We understand that the IOC intends, as with previous Olympics, to send a representative to the Israeli national Olympic committee's reception, on the sidelines of the 2012 Games in London, in memory of the murdered Olympians. However, such measures are insufficient. The murdered 11 were not only Israelis, they were Olympians, killed not in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv but at the Olympics in Munich. Their murder was an attack not only on the Israeli Olympians and on Israel but on the Olympics itself.
President Rogge, we know you are a former Olympic athlete who competed in the 1972 Games. The 11 men who were murdered were your fellow Olympians. We are sure you understand the spirit that motivates this request. We implore you to reconsider your refusal and permit a minute-long moment of silence at the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Games. Just one minute.
Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your response.
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Chairman HOWARD L. BERMAN, Ranking Member