The 1972 Munich Olympics Hostage Crisis

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September 5, 1972:Violence in the Village

A Day That Changed Sports and Its Story in The New York Times

"9 Israelis on Olympic Team Killed With 4 Arab Captors As Police Fight Band That Disrupted Munich Games," screamed the headline of the front page of The New York Times. The attack occurred during the wee hours of September 5, 1972, but news of the crisis, although widespread on television sets across the world, would not reach The New York Times until September 6. When it did reach the papers, it was clear that something had gone wrong. Very wrong. The New York Times first reported this event as a mind-boggling screw-up, and in the days that followed, reported on the manner in which the international community retaliated. In other words, news coverage shifted from the pointing of fingers to an eventual call for arms.

The Blame Game

The media perpetrated the first mistake that The New York Times detailed. Throughout the day of September 5, television and radio reports stated that the Israeli were safe. "Contradictor reports last night about the fate of the Israeli hostages seized by Arab Terrorists in the Olympic Village threw the public into confusion all over the world," the front-page article states. Television stations messed up by airing the unsubstantiated claim (later found to be of a policeman), and The New York Times was there to explain the roller-coaster ride that the false reports put the viewers on, including the families of the hostages themselves.

The New York Times decided to attack the Olympic organizers and West German police in Munich for a lack of security at the Olympic Village. However, because it was the first day that the story was reported, writers had no idea of the innumerable n...

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...y centers around the failures of the Olympic organizers in providing basic security all the way to the poorly planned shootout at the air base. The book emphasizes that the Israelis did not have to die, whereas The New York Times acknowledged the deaths, placed blame for the deaths, and called for and supported retaliation.

It was said by The New York Times that the 1972 Munich Olympics hostage crisis ruined the spirit of the Olympic Games forever. However, "The Blood of Israel" does not portray the crisis as a spoiler for the Games. Serge Groussard captured the spirit of the Olympic Games in describing the last moments of the captured Israelis' lives. Groussard explains how they fought until their deaths like true competitors, true Olympians. Both sources acknowledge the bad that came out of that day, but only "The Blood of Israel" mentions the good.

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