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Widow of Munich Olympics massacre victim: Switch off IOC chief's speech

LONDON  -- A widow of one of the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics has called for spectators to stand and observe a minute's silence and for television companies to turn off their microphones for a minute during Olympic chief Jacques Rogge's speech at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony.

Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, refused a request by the relatives of the dead and Israeli officials to mark the massacre by the Palestinian Black September group with a moment of silence at the ceremony.


Ilana Romano, wife of Olympic boxer Yossef Romano, said she hoped that broadcasters would "close the microphone for a minute when Jacques Rogge speaks."

She also asked people in the crowd to "please get up for one minute," and stay silent for that period.

"We believe the world is with us," she said. 

In denying a minute's silence for the victims of Munich, Rogge was taking a political stance, Romano said.

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Eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were killed by Palestinian gunmen during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.

"I think he makes the political [decision], not me." she said.

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Romano, who spoke to NBCNews.com by phone from Israel Friday, went to England with fellow widow Ankie Spitzer to make a personal plea to Rogge to allow the athletes' deaths to be remembered. However, they left empty-handed Thursday night.

Romano argued that the Olympic movement did not need to make any mention that the athletes were Israeli, but simply mark the deaths of members of the Olympic family.

NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas told the Hollywood Reporter that the IOC's decision against holding a minute of silence was "baffling."

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"I intend to note that the IOC denied the request," he said. "Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive."

In a conference call Thursday, NBC Olympics Executive Producer Jim Bell, speaking about Costas' remarks, said they had been discussing how to deal with the issue.

"I think if there is anyone who knows how to handle himself in that situation, have the right approach and tone, it’s Bob and Matt (Lauer).” he said, according to a transcript of the call. “We are going to handle it appropriately and respectfully. Bob has always had a big role in our planning of the coverage, and it’s been a healthy collaborative process.”

'An outrageous wrong'
Speaking at a commemoration in London Friday morning, Harvey Rose, chairman of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, said it was being held "to help right and outrageous wrong."

"I'm absolutely convinced that if any other country's athletes were slaughtered in the way that the Israeli athletes were slaughtered that there would have been a minute's silence," he said.

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"Shames on the IOC for it's clear anti-Israel bias, shame on the IOC for not appreciated and recognizing what the Olympics is all about," he added.

The commemoration, where Israel's ambassador to the U.K. Daniel Taub and others also spoke, was broadcast over the internet.

A minute's silence was held at the event at 11 a.m., when people around the world were asked to remember the dead as part of the Minute for Munich campaign.

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