July 9, 2012 / 7:48 PM / 5 years ago

Olympics-Israeli IOC member should back commemoration - minister

JERUSALEM, July 9 (Reuters) - Israeli Sports Minister Limor Livnat on Monday criticised compatriot and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Alex Gilady for failing to support a call to commemorate the 11 Israelis killed in Munich in 1972.

Family members of the athletes, coaches and officials who were killed by Palestinian gunmen during the Munich Olympics have tried for four decades to persuade the IOC to organise an official commemoration.

Livnat, speaking to Israel’s Olympic and Paralympic teams during an official send-off by Israeli President Shimon Peres, said Israelis had expected Gilady to lead the cause and not oppose the move.

She said Gilady had told her that he would not support a move that could jeopardise the unity of the Olympic movement and “he would not give (Israel‘s) enemies an excuse to boycott the Olympic Games”.

“(Gilady is) the only Israeli in the IOC, the one who should be at the forefront of the Israeli struggle to commemorate the 11 at the opening ceremony, the Israeli whom the whole of Israeli society expects to represent the bereaved families that asks that its sons be recognised,” Livnat said.

She said many Western leaders supported her personal plea to IOC President Jacques Rogge to hold a commemoration at the opening ceremony in London on July 27.

“The U.S. Senate has been convinced, the chairman of the German Bundestag has been convinced, the Australian parliament has been convinced, the Canadian parliament has been convinced, the London Assembly has been convinced, but the IOC and Alex Gilady have not been convinced,” she said.

Gilady, 69, an ex-journalist who covered the Munich Games for Israeli television, told Israeli media: “It is the minister’s full right to react in this way, I can only commend her for speaking.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met the Olympic delegation later, said the events of Munich had damaged the Olympic ethos.

“I think that after 40 years, the time has come to stand for a moment of silence...this is our demand of the IOC,” Netanyahu added.

The IOC told Reuters that Rogge was expected to attend a commemorative event organised by the Israeli Olympic Committee during the second week of the Games, on Aug. 6. (Editing by Clare Fallon)

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