Israeli victims of 1972 Games honored 44 years on

Wed Aug 3, 2016 3:33pm EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Widows of two of the 11 Israelis killed by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics got the recognition that they had so long sought with a ceremony and minute's silence at the Olympic village in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday.

Ankie Spitzer's fencing coach husband, Andre, was killed along with weightlifter Joseph Romano, whose wife Ilana Romano was also at the ceremony led by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

"This is closure for us. This is incredibly important. We waited 44 years to have this remembrance and recognition for our loved ones who were so brutally killed in Munich," Spitzer told reporters at the newly established Place of Mourning.

"That they would be really accepted as members of the Olympic family. It is what we wanted because they were members of the Olympic family."

On Sept. 5, 1972, members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage at the poorly secured athletes' village by Palestinian gunmen from the Black September group.

Within 24 hours, 11 Israelis, five Palestinians and a German policeman were dead after a standoff and subsequent rescue effort erupted into gunfire.

Relatives of those killed have long demanded a minute's silence at the Opening Ceremonies of Olympics Games, only to be turned down by the IOC.

Instead, Bach 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.   Continued...

Ilana Romano, widow of Israeli athlete Yossef Romano, one of 11 Israeli team members who were killed by Palestinian gunmen during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, speaks during a memorial ceremony for the victims of the Munich massacre with the Israeli athletes who will represent Israel at the 2016 Rio Olympics, in Tel Aviv, Israel July 13, 2016. REUTERS/Amir Cohen