Los Angeles 2028 chairman Casey Wasserman said Monday he hoped the Olympics could be a “beacon of light and hope” for the world, as he lamented the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Hamas-ruled territory of Gaza.
Israel declared war on the Islamist group a day after waves of its fighters broke through the heavily fortified border on October 7, shooting, stabbing and burning to death more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians.
Since then, Israeli strikes on Gaza have flattened neighbourhoods and killed about 2,750 people, mainly civilians, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry.
Wasserman, addressing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Mumbai on LA’s preparations, began his remarks by saying he was “proud to be Jewish” before adding: “There are no words that can fully capture the devastation and shock over the massacre in Israel on October 7.
“The world is still reeling from the largest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust.
“There is no justification for this.
“I unequivocally stand in solidarity with Israel, but let me be clear I also stand with the innocent civilians in Gaza who did not choose this war.”
Wasserman, citing the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes in a terror incident at the 1972 Munich Games, added: “Unfortunately, the Olympics are not immune to the world we live in.
“At its worst, it is a platform for hate to express itself on the stage and we will always remember the 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team who were taken hostage and murdered in Munich.
“But at its best it is an opportunity for sport to show the world a better path with peace and unity, and we will always remember the triumph of Jesse Owens in the face of unspeakable evil,” he said.
Owens, an African-American track and field athlete, won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, when Germany was under the control of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime.
“The world has never needed the Olympic Games more to be a beacon of light and hope, and let us rise to the challenge together,” he said.
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