If he doesn’t believe in the minute of silence, she added, “I expect him to say, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t push it forward,’ but don’t say it’s not necessary. It’s necessary.”
Gilady, born in Tehran in 1942, was a sports journalist who covered the Munich Olympics for Israeli television. He later became executive producer of Israel TV special events, winning the 1977 Israel Broadcasting Association Award for coverage of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem.
Four years later he moved to New York City to join NBC Sports, where he quickly rose up the ranks, focusing on building international business. Much of his work centered on the Olympics; he helped NBC buy broadcast rights to successive Olympic Games, winning four Emmy Awards for Olympic TV coverage along the way. Along wit being a senior vice president of NBC Sports, he remains active in the Israeli media as president of Keshet Broadcasting, a Channel 2 franchisee he helped found in 1993.
Gilady’s IOC involvement dates back to 1984, when he joined its radio and television commission, which advises on working conditions for the broadcast media. He was appointed an IOC member in 1994 and has been on the Coordination for the Games Committee for every Olympics since 2004.
Much of the Jewish anger against Gilady stems from the expectation that as an Israeli he would have the country’s interests at heart.
At a ceremony for Israel’s Olympics delegation in July, Sport and Culture Minister Limor Livnat bluntly complained about him.
“Davka, our only Israeli representative on the IOC, davka he is meant to stand at the spearhead of the state of Israel’s battle to commemorate our sportspeople … We would have expected him to have been the representative of the bereaved families, the representative of the entire Israeli society,” she said, according to the official text of her speech and using the Hebrew word that loosely means “wouldn’t it figure?”
Gilady, however, insists that his critics have it wrong.
“I was elected to the IOC on a private basis,” he told JTA. “I do not represent countries — I represent specifics the IOC is concerned about. I happen to be an Israeli.”
Romano only partially accepts the explanation.
“I think he has a commitment to the IOC, he represents their interests — I can’t argue with that,” she told JTA. “But I can’t understand it either, because Alex came back with the coffins … Could it really be that he has no heart or feeling?” she said of Gilady.
In Israel, Romano said, Gilady does occasionally come to the periodic Munich families’ ceremonies and that he “tries to be very nice.”
Still, she is puzzled at his failure to “repent” his longstanding objection to the silence.
One government official familiar with Livni’s views said the reasoning is simple: Gilady genuinely believes that a moment of silence would be a mistake.
The official noted that Livnat and others acknowledge that Gilady had done much for Israel and its athletes. In fact, the week before the Olympics, Gilady was said to be among those who pushed the BBC to reverse a decision not to list Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in its online guide to the Olympics. Others have credited the efforts to the push of the Israeli government and a Facebook campaign.
“Limor Livnat turned to Gilady, and he quickly expressed willingness to help,” the official said. “A few hours later, the IOC press officer wrote a letter of complaint to the BBC, asking them to act in accordance with the definitions of the IOC.”
The BBC eventually changed its listing to show Jerusalem as Israel’s “seat of government.”
“When it comes to the subject of the murder of the athletes, there is a disagreement,” the official continued. “But even if [Livnat] had the power, she would not remove Gilady from his IOC position. She very much appreciates his work, his ability, his effort. It’s unprecedented in Israeli sports, and you can’t take that away from Alex.”