JERUSALEM (AP) – The head of the International Olympic Committee apologized Wednesday for the organization’s long-standing failure to remember the 11 Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian militants at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Thomas Bach spoke at a ceremony in Tel Aviv marking the 50th anniversary of the deadly attack on the Munich Olympics, two weeks after the German president apologized at a memorial service in Germany for his country’s failures before, during and after the attack.
On September 5, 1972, the Palestinian group Black September attacked the Israeli Olympic delegation at the Munich Olympic Games, killing 11 Israelis and a police officer.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog said the athletes were “brutally murdered in cold blood by a Palestinian terrorist organization just for being Jewish, because they were Israeli.”
“This was the moment that the Olympic torch was extinguished, and the five-ringed flag was stained with blood,” he said.
Bach said the Munich attack was “the darkest day in Olympic history” and an attack on the Olympic Games and its values.
Everything that had been built for the Olympic Games was shattered 50 years ago by the horrific attack on the Israeli Olympic team. He also apologized for years for the International Olympic Committee to remember the Israeli victims in a “dignified way”.
A moment of silence was held at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games last year – the first time in nearly half a century that Olympic Games organizers marked the killing of an Israeli athlete.
“For this pain, and for this pain, that we have caused, I am truly sorry,” Bach said.
Last month the German government reached an agreement to pay a total of 28 million euros (or $27.6 million) in compensation to the families of the Munich victims after the families threatened to boycott this year’s commemoration.