5 times world politics cast a shadow on the Olympic Games
When political relations affected sport's biggest event.
The world’s biggest sporting event, the quadrennial Olympic games see athletes from all over the world participate for a shot at glory, and therefore it is unsurprising that world politics will have a significant bearing on events.
With Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff now seriously involved in a political scandal in the lead-up to the Rio 2016 Olympics and some serious organizational issues revealing themselves, we look at five times political issues escalated to seriously affect the Olympic Games:
1972 Olympic Games, Germany
Perhaps the darkest time in the history of the Olympic Games, the 1972 Olympics in Munich, West Germany, saw 11 Israeli athletes kidnapped and brutally murdered.
Their hostage takers were part of Palestinian terror organization Black September, which was said to have close associations to Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization, although the extent of that association is still unclear.
Members of the terror faction infiltrated the Olympic village and took the athletes hostage, demanding the reciprocal release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel and that of two Germans involved in terrorism.
To demonstrate their point, the attackers killed Israel’s wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg, throwing his body out of the window after he tried to fight them.
Israel followed national security protocol and completely rejected any negotiations whatsoever, while Germany was said to have offered the attackers an ‘unlimited amount of money,’ which they refused.
The Palestinians made demands of Israel, which they feigned agreement to as they planned an ambush operation at the airport where the Palestinian attackers would be led to believe their demands were being capitulated to.
Eventually, with German teams positioned at the airport there, the attackers believed that their demands were being yielded to. German police were dressed as flight crew and the plan was that they would lure the terrorists into a false sense of security before retaliating. Unfortunately, the team underestimated the breadth of the Palestinian attack, and the crew aborted the mission at the last moment without informing their crew.
This meant the attackers realised they had been lured into a trap, and the two leaders fled. The hostages, meanwhile, loaded onto the helicopters the attackers believed would fly them out, were tragically shot dead, with not a single survivor.
The incident led to heavy exchanges of gunfire between the already fractious nations, and precipitated future Olympic organizers to put counter-terrorism measures in place for all subsequent games