Horrific details have emerged of the final moments of the Israeli athletes murdered during the Munich Olympics more than three decades ago.
The families of the victims have until now kept their silence about exactly what happened after being shown documents and photographs by their lawyer in 1992, 20 years after 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were killed in the darkest chapter in Olympic history.
But now, as part of a documentary due to be released early next year, Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, who were both widowed in the attack, have spoken about how the victims were beaten, some suffering broken bones.
Speaking about her husband Yossef, Romano told the New York Times: “What they did is they cut off his genitals through his underwear and abused him. Can you imagine the others sitting tied up? They watched this.” Weightlifter Yossef was shot when he attempted to overpower the terrorists in the team hotel at the Olympic village. Most of the victims were killed in a failed rescue attempt at the airport.
The two women have led a decades-old campaign for the International Olympic committee to hold a minute’s silence for the victims at the opening ceremony of successive Games. A petition for such a tribute gained more than 80,000 signatures ahead of London 2012 – but the call was still not granted.
Spitzer told the Jewish News that she hoped revealing details of what happened in Munich would help to lead to their wish finally being granted.
But she welcomed as a “start” confirmation that the IOC will in Rio hold what is shaping up to be its most significant commemoration within an Olympic Village to date.
She said: “We are very pleased of the decision to have a ceremony inside the Village with family members, IOC members and a number of well-known Olympic athletes. We hope to meet soon with Thomas Bach to hear the details.”
The IOC has agreed to hold the event the day before the start of the Games in Brazil at the request of the families. The event is shaping up to be larger than in London, where a ceremony was held in the Olympic Village for the first time, and to which the families did not receive a formal invite.
An IOC spokesperson told the Jewish news: “In its commitment to strengthening support for athletes, the International Olympic Committee has agreed to create a mourning place within the Olympic Village during the period of the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. The chosen spot will allow athletes and all those in the Village to mourn in a proper way those who have passed away. Furthermore, in the inauguration of the mourning stone the Israeli victims will be remembered in a dignified ceremony.”
Spitzer claimed the names of the Israelis – as well four others to die within the context of Olympic Games – would be carved on the stone, which will then be used at future Games.