1972 - Munich

The day tragedy hit the Olympics

An Olympic Games that should have been remembered for the remarkable achievement of America's Mark Spitz, winner of a record seven gold medals in the pool, or Olga Korbut, the tiny Soviet gymnast whose grace enraptured a worldwide television audience, will forever be associated with one of the most barbaric terrorist attacks in history.

The Games were supposed to celebrate peace - and even became the first to have a mascot, Waldi, a cuddly dachshund - but will only be really remembered for what happened to the Israeli team.

They had taken an opportunity on rest day to see a performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" before heading back to their rooms at the Olympic Village.

Settling into bed in the early hours of September 5 they went to sleep unaware that eight members of a Palestinian terrorist group called Black September were making their way toward the athletes' housing complex.

Dressed in tracksuits, their athletic bags filled with Kalashnikovs and hand grenades, the terrorists mingled among tipsy American athletes coming in for the night. They hopped the six-foot fence surrounding the village.

Shortly after 4am, wrestling referee Yossef Gutfreund heard a noise at the door and went to investigate. Opening it, he saw the barrels of submachine guns. "Take cover, boys!" he shouted before trying to close the door.

Startled out of their sleep, a few managed to get out a back door; others left through a window. The attackers burst into a bedroom where wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg lunged at one with a knife and was shot in the face. In another room, weightlifter Yossef Romano grabbed a gun from a terrorist and was shot to death by another.

Nine athletes were captured and tied hand and foot to furniture in a bloody third-floor bedroom.

Soon the world - thanks to new satellite technology that beamed the Games to a billion people, more than ever before - would be watching in horror as a drama far more captivating than any Olympic event.

By the time it ended 21 hours later in an ill-conceived rescue attempt, 11 Israeli athletes and coaches, five terrorists and one West German police officer were dead.

The games would go on, but they would never be the same again. "Sports lost its innocence that day in Munich," said ABC television announcer Jim McKay, who anchored the coverage.

By current standards, security in Munich was almost laughable. A single chain-link fence protected the village, and athletes looking for a shortcut home often scaled it after a night out.

There was no barbed wire, no cameras, no motion detectors, and no barricades. About £1 million was allocated to protect the athletes - compared to London's proposed budget for 2012 of £225 million.

The village was less than 20 miles from the site of the Dachau death camp and Germany was determined not to give the games a militaristic look. Hitler's games of 1936 were still a vivid memory.

The Olympics paused only a day before resuming. It was not the last slap in the face to the survivors and relatives. They have pushed for but never gotten the moment of silence at succeeding Olympics they wanted.

At a memorial service in 2002, 25 relatives of the victims returned to the Munich stadium for a ceremony at the monument to the victims - a large stone tablet placed at the bridge linking the former Olympic Village to the stadium.

There, the victims' names are etched in the stone in German and Hebrew, with the solemn words: "In honour of their memory."

Date Games held: August 26-September 10

Number of nations represented: 121

Number of competitors: 7,173 (1,058 women)

Number of medal events: 195

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