Students’ campaign for minute of silence gets international attention

Divers jump from platform during practice session before start of London 2012 Olympic Games. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Tonight four students from The Catholic University of America are leaving Washington for Tel Aviv on their way to the Summer Olympics in London as part of a campaign to persuade the International Olympics Committee to consider a minute of silence during the July 27  opening ceremonies to commemorate the 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team massacred at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

We wrote about Catholic University students in the “Sociology of Sports” class joining the project in a June 19 blog. They’ve been working on this since December — and it has become an international story. The students’ efforts have included a YouTube video about the campaign and a letter to Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Olympics Organizing team. University president John Garvey has supported the effort wholeheartedly, writing his own letter to Olympic officials.

The students joined forces with the Jewish Community Center-Rockland in New York to help circulate a petition on Change.org and to date the two groups have collected more than 90,000 signatures.

Since the students began their campaign, the governments of Great Britain, Germany, Australia, Italy, Canada, and the United States have joined the call for a minute of silence. Thus far, the International Olympic Committee has refused to grant the request. On July 23, IOC president Jacques Rogge paid tribute to the Israeli athletes and coaches in his own moment of silence during a ceremony at the athletes village. The AP quoted him as saying the Israeli Olympians “came to Munich in the spirit of solidarity. We owe it to them to keep that spirit alive and to remember them.”

In Tel Aviv, the Catholic University students will meet with their counterparts at Israeli universities and high schools and visit with several families of the Munich victims. In London, they will attend a memorial service Aug. 6 sponsored by the Israeli Olympic Committee. They’ll blog about their experiences in Tel Aviv and London.

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