Bill Donohue, the voluble president of the Catholic League - a civil rights organization based in New York City - criticized the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not to allow a moment of silence at the opening of the Olympic Games on July 27 to recall the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian Liberation Front terrorists during the Olympics Games in Munich in 1972. On July 24, Olympic officials did allow a small gathering of persons to observe a moment of silence in memory of the innocent athletes who fell during the Munich massacre.
Donohue stated, " If they were truly interested in honoring the 11 Israelis who were murdered by terrorists 40 years ago, they would not have chosen a pre-Olympic event: they would have chosen the opening ceremonies on Friday. The official reason given for not doing so is that such an event would be 'political.'” He noted, "The Olympics are not exactly virginal in matters political. For example, at the 1908 Summer Olympics, the Irish were told they could not fly the Irish flag; they had to compete under the British flag. At the 1964 Summer Olympics, South Africa was suspended because of its practice of apartheid (the suspension was not lifted until 1992)." Of course, the 1936 Berlin Olympics were held under highly politicized circumstances, coming as they did during the midst of the National Socialist regime in Germany.
According to Donohue, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League said “It should be noted that moments of silence have been held at previous Olympic ceremonies, including one remembering the victims of the 9/11 attack at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.”
Speaking rhetorically, Donohue added, "If anything, it appears that politics explains why the Munich massacre is not considered worthy of commemoration. Are Olympic officials afraid of incurring a backlash from Muslim extremists? Is cowardice at play? Or is something else at work? We hope Bob Costas of NBC Sports makes good on his pledge to call for a moment of silence at the televised opening ceremonies. We also urge Catholics to stand with Jews on this issue by signing the online petition to the IOC requesting a moment of silence."
To sign the petition, go here.