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Beijing rite remembers Munich victims

A ceremony at the Hilton Beijing commemorated the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.

The secretary-general of the Israeli Olympic Committee, Ephraim Zinger, opened Monday’s event by reading the names of the 11 athletes and coaches who were killed in the terrorist killings. Rabbi Shimon Freudlich of Chabad Beijing led the El-Maleh Rachamim prayer.

Among those in attendance were 14 current Israeli Olympic athletes who had completed their competitions, as well as coaches and referees.

While the Israeli delegation always visits the memorial to the Munich victims in Tel Aviv on the eve of their departure for the Olympic Games, the tradition to hold a formal memorial ceremony at the Games began in Sydney in 2000.

The memorial is arranged by the Israeli Olympic Committee in conjunction with the local Israeli embassy, and has not been incorporated as an official program under the International Olympic Committee’s jurisdiction, despite ongoing Israeli requests.

Zvi Varshaviak, the president of the Israel Olympic Committee, called upon the international committee to be directly involved in commemorating the Munich massacre.

“This is not an Israeli issue, this concerns the whole Olympic family,” said Ankie Schpitzer, the widow of one of the victims, fencing referee Andrei Schpitzer. “Our sons, fathers and husbands were no accidental tourists or visitors to the Games; they were part of it. They believed in the spirit and the dreams of the Olympics, but they all came home in a coffin.”

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