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Sombre side to the Olympic celebrations

As fervour builds for the Olympic Games which open in London today, three stark facts will be borne in mind by Jewish people.

Firstly, not everyone realises the Torch Relay was introduced to the modern Games by the Nazis at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

Secondly, it is 40 years since 11 Israeli athletes were killed at the Munich Olympics in 1972, in the very country where the Jews suffered during the Holocaust. Thirdly, the Games begin today, Friday, July 27, during which, at sunset, the Jewish Sabbath begins, but which is also the darkest day in the Hebrew calendar - the 9th of Av. It marks the destruction of both the first and second Jewish temples in Jerusalem and is a day of mourning and fasting for Jews around the world.

I think it not inappropriate to have a minute's silence before the opening of the Games in memory of those Jewish athletes who lost their lives in 1972.

Forty is an auspicious number in the Bible and to mark the 40th memorial in this way would mean a lot - not only to Jewish people, but to all well-meaning people.

With the International Olympic Committee deciding against a commemoration, the UK Zionist Federation has invited people, wherever they may be at 11am today, to stand for a minute's silence to honour the dead.

I call upon all those who agree with this initiative to observe this moment of respect as the 2012 team of Israeli athletes join the Games.

COLIN NEVIN

Bangor, Co Down

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