German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier apologized Monday to Israeli athletes and team members at the 1972 Munich Olympics at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the failed rescue mission at an airfield near Munich.
Steinmeier said Germany It must bear its share of responsibility for failing to protect athletes and taking decades to compensate victims’ families.
We cannot undo what happened, Steinmeier said in his speech. “I am ashamed. As the head of state of this country and for the Federal Republic GermanyI apologize for the inadequate protection of athletes and the adequate resolution of this matter.
Munich Olympics (1972)
On September 5, 1972, members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage by Palestinians from the Black September group in the Athletes’ Village.
Eleven Israelis, a German police officer and five Palestinian gunmen died in clashes at the Olympic village and Fürstenfeldbruck airfield, as rescue efforts erupted in gunfire.
Despite the attacks, the Games continued, and for half a century the International Olympic Committee ignored requests by victims’ families for official commemoration at the Olympic Games ceremony.
The IOC held a moment of silence and mentioned the victims of last year’s Munich Games at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, the first time in nearly half a century.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Steinmeier laid wreaths at the site as flags flew at half-mast on all state buildings in the Bavarian capital.
International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach and other officials attended the ceremony.
The German government and Israeli families offered €28 million in compensation on Friday, with the federal government contributing €22.5 million. (R4 2.5 million) from Munich.
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