Varshaviak said the gesture was beautiful and moving. "It's a brave sign of solidarity and friendship between the Olympic family of Italy and that of Israel, which has continued for many years," he said. Zinger thanked the Italians and explained to them that his committee is doing everything to memorialize the 11 Munich victims as Israelis. However, he said, it is important to remember that they were also Olympic athletes, coaches and judges who were murdered during the Olympics. "Therefore they are children of the Olympic movement and in our opinion it is the moral obligation of the International Olympic Committee to find a suitable way to perpetuate their memory," Zinger added.
Adding her voice to the chorus of those who seek to acknowledge and honor the victims of the 1972 Olympic massacre was the US Women's gymnastics team captain, Aly Raisman, who spoke with reporters after winning her gold medal in the floor exercise event. "The fact it was on the 40th anniversary is special, and winning the gold today means a lot to me. If there had been a moment’s silence, I would have supported it and respected it,” she said. Speaking of Raisman's connection to her Jewish faith, Rabbi Keith Stern of Temple Beth Avodah in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, where the Raisman family are members, said of Aly, "She's very proud and upfront about being Jewish. Neither she nor her family explicitly sought to send a message. But it shows how very integrated her Jewish heritage is in everything that she does."
Prior to the start of the Olympics however, the reality of geo-political tensions reared its ugly head when the Lebanese Judo team refused to practice next to the Israeli team at the gym at London's ExCeL center during final preparations. Olympic organizers accepted the Lebanese coach's demand that the teams be separated and a makeshift barrier was erected to split their gym into two halves. Even when Middle Eastern nations have competed against Israel, the match hasn’t always been friendly. Last February, for example, Egyptian judoka Ramadan Darwish was called a "national hero" after refusing to shake his Israeli rival’s hand after defeating Arik Zeevi in competition. Instead, Darwish yelled “Allahu Akbar” and walked away. Because of the boycott pressures, Israeli athletes usually compete in European circuits, rather than regional ones.
Although no medals were won by the Israeli Olympic team in London, the tennis duo of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram (who have been representing Israel on the tennis court for more than a decade) did succeed in upsetting Roger Federer and Stanislaw Wawrinca of Switzerland, the 2008 gold medalists in men’s doubles. The Israelis beat the Swiss pair, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the second round and advanced to the quarterfinals, where they were eventually defeated by the top-seeded duo; brothers Mike and Bob Bryan of the United States. Erlich and Ram's most significant victory came in 2008, when they won the Australian Open. They also own Davis Cup wins in 2009 over Russia, in 2007 over Luxembourg and Italy, and in 2006 over Great Britain.