In 1996, then-International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch discussed the recent war in the Balkans, and the need to rebuild Sarajevo. What he didn’t commemorate, or even mention—and what, the IOC announced today, won’t be commemorated, or even mentioned, in any official capacity at this summer’s Games in London on the 40th anniversary—is the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Despite an official Israeli request, the IOC will not do, well, anything, except, in the words of President Jacques Rogge, to offer the following thoughts: “What happened in Munich in 1972 strengthened the determination of the Olympic Movement to contribute more than ever to building a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit.”
This should not be a solely Israeli issue. Among the birthplaces of the eleven Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists affiliated with Fatah are Poland (wrestler Yakov Springer participated in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising), Libya, Latvia, Romania, Belarus, and, yes, the United States—Cleveland, to be exact. A German police officer was killed (as were five Palestinian terrorists). Jewish American athletes feared for their lives and had to be ferried out of the country; Mark Spitz was not permitted to stick around to celebrate the record seven gold medals he won. The Olympic governing bodies of all of those countries—including the U.S. Olympic Committee—ought to be demanding official recognition, as should those countries’ governments.
And, for good measure, so should every other country. The Munich 11 were targeted because they were Israelis and Jews, but anybody who thinks the massacre was only an assault on Israel and Jews does not understand—well, does not understand the Olympic spirit, which is dedicated “to building a peaceful and better world … through sport practiced without discrimination.”
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.