Munich widows press for tribute at Games

President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Switzerland's Jacques Rogge delivers a speech at the residence of the Israeli ambassador to Athens August 19, 2004, during a memorial service for Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. Eleven Israelis were killed at the 1972 Olympics in Munich when Palestinian gunmen attacked the athletes' village and the Games were suspended for 34 hours. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis

BEIJING (Reuters) - Two widows of Israeli team members killed at the 1972 Munich Games urged Olympic chiefs on Monday to include a tribute in opening ceremonies to those who died in the standoff with Palestinian gunmen.

Eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were taken hostage by the Black September militant group, which was demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners. They were killed in the standoff, in which five of the gunmen and a German policeman also died.

“We feel (the tribute) has to be in the framework of the Olympics because they were part of the Olympics family. They were not just people who came to visit the Olympics.” Ankie Spitzer, widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer, told reporters.

The Israeli embassy in Beijing hosted a memorial event attended by Israel’s team, diplomats and Olympic officials.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge attended a similar event in Athens in 2004 but sent former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch this year.

“Samaranch has been absolutely negative to our request all these years. He said we were bringing politics to the Olympics. We said we were not political at all,” said Spitzer.

Editing by Ralph Gowling