Tag Archives: London Olympics

Hava Nagila inspires USA’s Aly Raisman to victory at the empy seat Olympics.

Empty seats left and right at North Greenwich Arena yesterday.

Empty seats left and right at North Greenwich Arena yesterday.

Israeli gymnast Valeria Maksiuta disappointed in the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics qualification round at the London Olympics yesterday coming 59th out of 60. It was left to Israel’s proxy, the USA, to step into the breach.

Only two women from each country can qualify for the individual all-round final on Thursday so USA team captain Aly Raisman needed something inspirational in the floor exercise to put her above team mate Jordyn Wieber. And to the tune of Hava Nagila she didn’t disappoint herself as her winning score of 15.325 put her through to the final.

She said she’s proud to use the traditional Jewish tune “because there aren’t too many Jewish athletes out there” among the world’s top gymnasts.

Check out her spectacular winning routine from yesterday and……enjoy!

Team GB’s Beth Tweddle was equally sensational. Had the Greenwich Arena been filled to capacity yesterday the roof would have come off and the foundations would have been rocked when Tweddle somersaulted off the uneven bars at the end of her routine:

It was thrilling to be at the North Greenwich Arena and see such incredible performances. Woman’s gymnastics is drama, theatre, art and sport combined.

London was also buzzing. The Olympics is a rare chance for a country to have a positive shared experience. Those heading to events feel part of something special so it was especially sad to see so many empty seats.

LOCOG had intentionally whipped the British public up into a ticket buying frenzy, which left so many disappointed. Hours of people’s lives were wasted online.

Only now has the truth been revealed. Tickets were allocated to sponsors and the “Olympics family” who haven’t bothered showing up for the qualifying rounds of events. No doubt they’ll be there for medal events.

Television viewers are seeing swathes of empty seats across many events and it was the same at the gymnastics yesterday. LOCOG even brought in the army as seat fillers. The last time I saw so many military watching an event was, literally, at Yugoslavia’s Marshall Tito FA cup final in 1987 in Belgrade!

Now there’s talk of somehow retrieving unused tickets and handing them out to school-children and the unemployed, meaning that those who have spent hours online and who are desperate to go will miss out again.

Seb Coe and LOCOG really don’t get it.

It is unforgivable.

More photos from yesterday:

Army brought in as seat fillers yesterday.

Army brought in as seat fillers yesterday.

Team Canada posing for photos yesterday.

Team Canada posing for photos yesterday.

Israeli flag for Valeria Maksiuta

Israeli flag for Valeria Maksiuta

Building the atmosphere yesterday.

Building the atmosphere yesterday.

Just 1 minute, Mr Rogge!

Plaque unveiled by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in Hackney ceremony.

Plaque unveiled by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in Hackney ceremony.

On 5th September 1972 inside Munich’s Olympics Village Israeli athletes were ambushed by Palestinian terrorists. Over the course of the day 11 Israelis were murdered after botched rescue attempts by the German authorities. A German policeman also died. The Games carried on.

Some of the terrorists died during the final rescue attempt at a military airbase but the others, held in German custody, gained their freedom after a plane was subsequently hijacked and a demand for their release was agreed to.

Mossad methodically went about locating and killing each terrorist, except one.

Common decency has it that those trusted into your care are remembered when tragedy occurs. British football grounds regularly resonate to a minute silence when one of the footballing community is lost.

But not where the International Olympics Committee is concerned and where Israeli blood was spilled under its auspices. Heaven forbid they should offend certain other competing nations.

At no stage has this tragedy been properly remembered since 1972; never a minute silence at any Games in the 40 years since. The only plaques to the murdered athletes are in Munich and Israel.

Ankie Spitzer, wife of Andre, the murdered fencing coach, asked the IOC for a minute silence during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics to mark the 40th anniversary of the attack but Jacques Rogge said the atmosphere of the opening ceremony made such a silence inappropriate. The IOC will, instead, go to the military airbase where the final botched rescue bid took place. Neatly out of sight and mind of those the IOC don’t wish to offend.

Anticipating this outcome the co-chairs of the Britain and Israel Olympic Plaque Committee Martin Sugarman (Chair Hackney-Haifa Twinning Association) and councillor Linda Kelly (past speaker of Hackney) raised funds for a dignified and moving ceremony yesterday morning at the Arthaus in Hackney.

Linda said she was amazed that with all the hours during the Olympics the IOC could not spare one minute for the memory of the murdered athletes.

The Conservative Party was represented by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Communities Minister Eric Picles MP, Matthew Offord MP and Councillor Brian Coleman.

Eric Pickles MP, Minister for Communities and Local Government.

Eric Pickles MP, Minister for Communities and Local Government.

Labour was solely represented by Andrew Dismore, GLA member for Barnet and Camden. The Miliband brothers were invited but one was busy and the other didn’t reply. No mainstream Liberal Democrat politicians bothered to come.

Maureen Lipman, who constantly fights Israel’s corner against the many hypocrites in the acting world, came.

Sebastian Coe, London Olympics organiser, was invited. Linda Kelly read out his reply which amounted to nothing more than “Sorry. Mad busy at moment”. Shame he couldn’t have used one of his ubiquitous VIP Olympics lanes to transport him to Hackney for even the 20 minutes or so that Boris Johnson managed to appear.

Meanwhile, the Simon Marks Primary School Choir beautifully sang Jerusalem of Gold, the Hatikvah, God Save The Queen and Oseh Shalom Bimromav, which preceeded Kaddish (Prayer for the deceased) for the athletes.

The superb Simon Marks Jewish Primary School Choir.

The superb Simon Marks Jewish Primary School Choir.

War veterans were there to present wreaths in front of the plaque, which was unveiled by Boris Johnson, and to perform the Last Post and Reveille either side of the minute silence for the athletes.

Jewish war veterans present a wreath.

Jewish war veterans present a wreath.

Yosi Romano, named after his uncle who was mercilessly gunned down in Munich, spoke movingly as did Ben Helfgott, a Holocaust survivor and British Olympian, who knew the murdered Israeli athletes so well.

Yosi Romano named after his uncle who was murdered in 1972.

Yosi Romano named after his uncle who was murdered in 1972.

Holocaust survivor and ex British Olympian Ben Helfgott.

Holocaust survivor and ex British Olympian Ben Helfgott.

Efraim Zinger, the President of the Israeli Olympics Committee, noted that this is the third time London has hosted the Olympics; in 1908 Israel didn’t exist, in 1948 they were fighting for their lives and, so, they didn’t want to miss out on London 2012.

Boris Johnson spoke of the “numb disbelief” in which the world watched events unfold in Munich in 1972. He was eight at the time.

Boris Johnson unveiling the plaque yesterday.

Boris Johnson unveiling the plaque yesterday.

The permanent plaque is available to be visited at the Arthaus in Hackney. Meanwhile, a big thank you to Martin and Linda, an anonymous donor, the Reuben Foundation, the Muriel and Gershon Coren Charitable Foundation and to Hackney and East London Synagogue for their hospitality
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