(JTA) — The International Olympic Committee will erect a place to mourn family and friends at the 2016 Games in Rio, including the 11 Israeli athletes killed by terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The closing ceremony also will feature a moment of reflection to remember those who have died at the Olympic Games, such as the Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was killed in a training accident at the start of the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.
The moves are seen as an attempt to appease critics of the IOC who have said that it has not gone far enough in memorializing the Jewish athletes in Munich who were taken hostage and then killed by the Palestinian group Black September. The games were suspended for a day before resuming.
IOC President Thomas Bach said Sunday that the IOC will “remember all those who have lost their lives at the Olympic Games.”
“We want to give the athletes the opportunity to express their mourning in a dignified way and environment in the Olympic Village where representatives of the whole world are living peacefully under the same roof,” he said. “At the Closing Ceremony, the Games come to an end and many people feel that it is a moment to remember people who have died at the Olympic Games.”
Alex Gilady, who represents Israel on the IOC, called the move “a good and positive step by the members of the International Olympic Committee,” according to Ynet. “The ability to see the issue not only through Israeli eyes, but through a wider view, represents a change and a big step forward.”
The IOC rejected an in-person appeal, accompanied by a petition signed by more than 100,000 people, for a moment of silence at the opening ceremonies of the London Games in 2012 by the widows of two of the 11 Israelis slain at Munich to mark 40 years since the tragedy. The IOC has rejected repeated calls by family members of the athletes murdered at Munich and the Israeli government for such a moment of silence.
Former IOC President Jacques Rogge led a minute of silence inside the Olympic Village during the 2012 Games, attended a private ceremony in London during the Olympics and took part in a commemoration on the 40th anniversary on Sept. 5, 2012, at the Munich airport where most of the Israelis died.