For the first time in nearly half a century, the victims of the 1972 terror attack at the Munich Olympics have been officially remembered, with a moment’s silence being observed during Tokyo’s opening ceremony on Friday.
Eleven Israeli athletes were killed inside the Olympic village at the 1972 Games by Palestinian gunmen from the Black September group, a massacre regarded as one of the darkest chapters in Olympic history. Two of the 11 were shot dead almost immediately, while the others were killed during a gun battle with West German police at a nearby airfield, as the militants tried to take them out of the country.
The BBC reported that families of the victims had for years been urging Olympic organisers to honour them at an opening ceremony, but their requests had been repeatedly rejected.
Athletes’ widows, Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, who were at Friday’s ceremony, said: ‘Finally there is justice. We went through 49 years of struggle and never gave up.’
In Friday’s ceremony, as the stadium darkened and a soft blue light illuminated parts of the arena, an announcer said: ‘We remember those who lost their lives during the Olympic Games. One group still holds a strong place in all our memories and stand for all those we have lost at the games – the members of the Israeli delegation at the Olympic Games Munich 1972.’
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) drew criticism after rejecting a request for a minute’s silence at the London 2012 Games to mark the 40th anniversary of the attack.
Organisers said the ceremony was not a “fit’’ atmosphere for a tribute.
In 2016, the IOC created a ‘Place of Mourning’ in Rio’s Olympic village to commemorate those who had died during the Games.