“Darkest day in Olympic history” commemorated in Munich – victims of 1972 terrorist attack remembered

05 Sep 2022
IOC News IOC President

The 50th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Israeli Olympic team at the Olympic Games Munich 1972 was commemorated today in the Olympic Park in Munich and at the airfield of Fürstenfeldbruck, where the events unfolded in 1972. The attack ended with the death of 11 members of the Israeli team and a German policeman. 

IOC President Thomas Bach IOC / Greg Martin

IOC President Thomas Bach was one of the speakers at the ceremony in Fürstenfeldbruck, which was hosted by the German government. The ceremony was attended by the German Federal President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the President of Israel, Jitzchak Herzog, who both addressed the audience. The families of the victims and the President of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Israel, Yael Arad, also participated. The European Olympic Committees were represented by IOC Member Daina Gudzineviciute and the NOC of Germany by its President, Thomas Weikert.

“5 September 1972 was the darkest day in Olympic history. What began so peacefully and joyfully ended in inconceivable suffering. We share the pain of the relatives of the 11 Israeli victims and the German policeman. To this day, that barbaric attack fills us with horror, shame and disgust,” IOC President Bach said in his speech, delivered in German (Please find his full speech in English here).

Thomas Bach reminded everyone that the meaning of the Olympic Games is the peaceful celebration of “the unity of humankind in all our diversity, regardless of political or cultural differences.” He concluded: “For this reason, this attack was also an attack on the Olympic Games and the Olympic values. The minute of silence shared with hundreds of millions of people all over the world during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 made this movingly clear. Today, once more, we bow our heads as a mark of honour, tribute and deep respect for the victims. We empathise with the relatives. We share their grief: the murdered members of the Israeli Olympic team were, are and will remain part of our Olympic community.”

Germany 50 year commemorative ceremony on the occasion of the 1972 terror attack at the Olympic Games Music 1972 IOC / Greg Martin

Despite this terrible loss, neither the relatives nor the National Olympic Committee of Israel turned their backs on the Games. Israeli athletes have in fact taken part in all subsequent Olympic Games, the IOC President said.

Concluding his speech, he reminded everyone that the Olympic Games unite the entire world in peaceful competition. “That is why our commemoration ceremony today has an even deeper meaning: We stand together, united in our remembrance, but also in our commitment to the peace mission of the Olympic Games. In this way, we show that the values of human solidarity and peace are stronger than all the forces of hatred and division.”

Earlier in the day, a ceremony was also held in Munich at the memorial commemorating the victims of the terrorist attack. The IOC laid a wreath. Israeli NOC President Yael Arad said that the Israeli victims are still “a source of strength and inspiration for every young athlete who represents Israel in the international arena, and every performance and achievement is part of the legacy left behind by the members of the delegation to the Olympic Games in Munich 1972.”

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