WASHINGTON — The White House Thursday threw its support behind calls for a moment of silence during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics to mark the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Games.
Israel has asked for such a tribute to open the Summer Games, but the International Olympic Committee has so far refused, saying a memorial will be held at a different time in London.
"We absolutely support the campaign for a moment of silence at the Olympics to honor the Israeli athletes killed in Munich," National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told AFP, after it was first reported by Yahoo! News.
When asked whether the tribute to the athletes killed 40 years ago by Palestinian militants should take place during the opening ceremony in London, he replied: "Yes."
The spectacular hostage-taking by the militants from the Black September organization at the Olympic Village in Munich climaxed in the killing of 11 Israelis and a German policeman as well as five militants.
The Israeli government wrote to the IOC in April to ask that the Games begin with a moment of silence, but the IOC said while there would be some form of commemoration, it would not come during the opening ceremony.
An IOC spokesperson said the decision had been made in concert with the Israeli National Olympic Committee and that it had been relayed to the Israeli government by IOC president Jacques Rogge.
But the idea has gained international backing, including from German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Canadian lawmakers.
The London games open on July 27 and run until August 12.
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