The 1972 Munich Massacre

The Munich Massacre occurred on 5 September 1972, when 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage inside the Olympic Village by terrorists from the Black September group. 

Two athletes were shot dead almost immediately following their kidnapping. After negotiations to free the remaining nine Israelis broke down, the terrorists took the hostages to a nearby airport. The others were killed during a gun battle with West German police at a nearby airfield, as the terrorists tried to take them out of the country. Following the massacre, the Israeli Government launched “Operation Wrath of God”, which aimed to assassinate the individuals involved in the massacre. 

Why is the massacre being spoken about in this Olympic Games? 

For the first time in Olympic history, the massacre was formally honoured in the opening ceremony. There was a moment of silence designated to remember the 11 victims of the massacre. 

This comes after the families of the victims urged Olympic organisers for numerous years to honour the athletes at an opening ceremony, however, their requests were repeatedly rejected. In 2012, the IOC rejected a request for a minute’s silence at the London 2012 Games to signify the 40th anniversary of the attack. In 2016 a “Place of Mourning” in Rio’s Olympic Village was set up as a commemoration, and in Tokyo this year, the athletes were remembered in a moment of silence in the opening ceremony. 

During the recognition, the announcer at the opening ceremony said, “one group still holds a strong place in all our memories and stands for all those we have lost at the games – the members of the Israeli delegation at the Olympic Games Munich 1972”. 

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