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Bob Costas fulfilled his promise to acknowledge on national television the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to honor Israeli athletes and coaches murdered nearly 40 years ago at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Costas told The Hollywood Reporter exclusively of his plans in multiple interviews. And during NBC’s broadcast of the July 27 Opening Ceremonies from London, Costas acknowledged what has become known as the Munich Massacre.
“The Israeli athletes now enter behind their flag-bearer Shahar Zubari,” said Costas. “These games mark the 40th anniversary of the 1972 tragedy in Munich, when 11 Israeli coaches and athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists. There have been calls from a number of quarters for the IOC to acknowledge that, with a moment of silence at some point in tonight’s ceremony. The IOC denied that request, noting it had honored the victims on other occasions. And, in fact, this week [IOC president] Jacques Rogge led a moment of silence before about 100 people in the athlete’s village. Still, for many, tonight, with the world watching, is the true time and place to remember those who were lost, and how and why they died.”
Costas then pauses for about 12 seconds (an eternity in TV time) as the 39-person Israeli delegation – clad in their country’s blue and white – continued their march into the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium.
He then cut to a commercial break: “We’re back to London after this.”
Costas told THR he was “baffled” by the IOC’s decision adding “many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive.”
His planned act of defiance garnered global attention in the run-up to the Games, with dozens of media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Enquirer, The Atlantic, New York Daily News and Jerusalem Post lauding the NBC Sports anchor.
The star-studded opening ceremony directed by filmmaker Danny Boyle included appearances from Kenneth Branagh, Rowan Atkinson, Paul McCartney and a James Bond-themed opening skit that culminated with Queen Elizabeth II parachuting into the stadium with Bond star Daniel Craig.
Flag-bearer Zubari – a windsurfer who won a bronze medal in Beijing – had the Star of David shaved into the side of his hair.
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