Aly Raisman was not alive when the Black September Palestinian militant group infiltrated the Olympic Village at the 1972 Munich Games, but on Tuesday, the 18-year-old gymnast said she would have supported a moment of silence in honor of the victims.
In light of the 40th anniversary of the tragedy -- which resulted in the death of 11 athletes and coaches -- relatives and supporters of the Munich victims had redoubled their efforts to have a moment of silence observed during the opening ceremonies in London.
But in a decision that drew widespread criticism, International Olympic Committee President Jaques Roggue refused to allow any such remembrance, announcing in May that the "IOC has officially paid tribute to the memory of the athletes on several occasions," and would not be doing so in London, according to USA Today.
However, after Raisman mounted the podium to accept her individual gold medal in the women's floor exercises Tuesday, she showed maturity and poise as she addressed the Munich controversy head on.
“If there had been a moment’s silence,” Raisman said, “I would have supported it and respected it," the New York Post notes.
For many, the gymnast's routine, which was performed to the traditional Hebrew folk tune, “Hava Nagila,” added an extra layer of poignancy.
“Having that floor music wasn’t intentional,” Raisman told reporters. “But the fact it was on the 40th anniversary is special, and winning the gold today means a lot to me.”
The Jewish community has rallied around the young star, much as it has other athletes who have found their own ways to honor their fallen peers.
Fabien Gilot, a French swimmer, made headlines with his own moving tattoo tribute. The Hebrew lettering on his arm: אני כלום בלעדיהם, meaning, "I am nothing without them," was a tribute to a Jewish grandfather figure, Gilot said.
The Italian delegation also made its own moving gesture of solidarity earlier in the games, holding a minute of silence with a number of Israeli representatives inside the Olympic Village, Haaretz reports.
Before the start of the games, a petition with more than 107,00 signatures, including that of Barack Obama, was presented to Roggue in London, asking that he reverse his decision and allow the moment of silence to be observed.
Roggue, however was unmoved.
Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article mistakenly stated that Raisman would support a moment of silence in honor of the militant group; she was referring to the victims. We regret the error.
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