Munich Massacre Widows Plead for Olympic Observance
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
At a memorial service last night in Beijing for Israeli athletes, coaches, and officials killed by Palestinian Arab terrorists at the Munich Olympics in 1972, two widows of the victims pleaded with the International Olympic Committee, including its honorary life president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, to make a formal recognition of the massacre a regular feature of the opening ceremony of the games.
“We should have had this memorial in front of all the athletes, sponsored by the IOC. This is not an Israeli issue. This concerns the whole Olympic family,” Ankie Spitzer, the wife of a slain fencing coach, Andre Spitzer, said. “Nations who are not willing to condemn terrorism openly or refuse to compete against other nations because of their nationality or race or religion, they should not be part of the Olympics. It’s contrary to the Olympic ideal. … It will not go away by ignoring it.”
In a two-minute speech earlier in the service, which was arranged by the Israeli Embassy, Mr. Samaranch said he and the IOC were “sorry” about what happened in Munich 36 years ago. “Eleven athletes, coaches, and judges of your country that came to the Olympic Games to compete in peace and in harmony were killed in an event that the world and the Olympic movement will never forget. I think it’s the worst moment in all history — the long history of the Olympic Games,” he said.
Biographies and photos of the slain Israelis lined the sides of the hotel function room, which contained diplomats, IOC members, and much of the Israeli delegation to the Beijing Games. At the conclusion of the service, the Israeli Embassy gave Mr. Samaranch, 88, a gold plaque, a gesture that did not sit well with the widows, who contend he obstructed their efforts while he served as IOC president between 1980 and 2001.
“I asked them, ‘Why would you give him this?'” Ms. Spitzer told The New York Sun. “I don’t like this. I’m very straightforward. … We have been at war with him. We are like the naggers and if Samaranch would once listen to us — but he told us when he was still IOC president that we are bringing politics into the games. It’s not true at all.”
Ms. Spitzer, whose husband was 27 when he was killed, said she ignored Mr. Samaranch at a similar service in Athens in 2004, but gave in a bit last night. “Now, I shook his hand,” she said. “I have a long-standing grudge against him … but let’s not open old wounds, and I appreciated that he did come. He’s an old man.”
The current IOC president, Jacques Rogge, attended the commemoration four years ago but was at equestrian events in Hong Kong last night.
GREEK HURDLER SENT HOME ON DOPING RAP
A Greek athlete who holds the world record in the 400-meter hurdles, Fani Chalkia, was formally barred from the Olympic Games yesterday after she tested positive for a powerful steroid, methyltrienolone, the International Olympic Committee announced. In a statement to an Olympic disciplinary panel, Ms. Chalkia denied using the steroid or any other prohibited substance and said she suspected she was the victim of tampering by third parties. She left Beijing on Sunday after learning of the test results, which came from urine samples she provided while training in Japan last week.
The Olympic disciplinary board recommended that Greek authorities investigate whether Ms. Chalkia’s personal coach, George Panagiotopoulos, violated Greek law in connection with the reported doping. The panel noted that Tassos Goussis, another Greek athlete who uses the same coach, recently tested positive for the same steroid. Greek officials sent Mr. Goussis, a sprinter, home directly from Japan when those tests came back positive.
‘GRAY AREA’ QUESTIONS FOR ATHLETES OKAYED
A press conference moderator who rejected a reporter’s question to a Georgian athlete last week may have been overzealously enforcing rules against political propaganda at the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee said yesterday. “We’re talking about human beings trying to do their jobs running press venues and … possibly sometimes taking the letter of what’s understood a little bit too precisely,” an IOC spokeswoman, Giselle Davies, said. “If there are questions that verge into that gray area, as long as it’s done respectfully and the athlete isn’t under any feeling of discomfort and wishes to respond, then that shouldn’t be a problem.”