Five-Ring Circus

A Complete Rundown of the Opening Ceremony’s Moments of Silence. (None Were for the Israeli Athletes Slain in 1972.)

Olympic Stadium
The Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/GettyImages

The IOC fulfilled its promise not to feature one minute of silence during Friday’s opening ceremony. Instead, it offered two pauses of remembrance. Neither was for the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered at the 1972 Games.

First, the ceremony paused—in the words of the BBC’s commentators—for “a moment of remembrance for all people in all countries” in order to honor “the fallen of two world wars and all other conflicts.”

After this generic war moment, the ceremony then paused later for a second moment of silent reflection “to respect our memorial wall for friends and family of those in the stadium that cannot be here tonight.” (According to the BBC website, “spectators were asked to present images of loved ones” who had passed away.)


IOC President Jacques Rogge had previously attempted to justify the decision not to honor the victims of the Munich terrorist attacks by saying that “the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident.”

It’s now clear that Rogge wasn’t telling the whole truth. It’s not that the opening ceremony wasn’t fit to remember tragedies. It’s that the IOC wanted to pick and choose which tragedies to remember. The fallen from world wars and the deceased relatives of people with opening ceremony tickets made the cut. The victims of a terrorist attack that occurred at the Olympics four decades ago did not.