"For me sport was a religion... with religious sentiment. "
-Baron Pierre de Coubertin
On September 5, 1972, one day before the commencement of the Munich Olympic Games eight, Palestinian terrorists entered the Olympic Village and killed two members of the Israeli team and took nine other hostages. These nine were killed during failed attempts to rescue them. The terrorists requested the released of 234 Palestinians being held captive in Israel. Five of the terrorists were killed and three were wounded during rescue attempts, along with one West German policeman.
The following day a memorial service was held and the Olympic flags were flown at half staff. The Opening Ceremony was delayed one day. The I.O.C. decision to continue with the Olympic Games after the terrorist attack was thought of as controversial to some. The I.O.C. president, Avery Brundage proclaimed that "the Games must go on."
After the attacks, a Palestinian spokesman said, "that sport is the modern religion of the western world; So we decided to use the Olympics, the most sacred ceremony of this religion, to make the world pay attention to us."
Although the Olympic Games had previously been used as a vehicle for political purposes, they had never been used on such a violent scale before. The Olympic Games are about everything that is non-violent. Athletes, and in a larger sense, nations, are able to play out nationalistic tendencies on the playing field and not on the battleground. Not only can these nations play out nationalistic tendencies, they can learn about other nations in way that had never before been possible before the Olympics. In many way, the Olympics can be thought of as the most unifying, and reoccurring, event in our modern history. The Olympics are, in fact, about everything that is political. It is the symbolism of the Olympics that has brought people across the world together. Athletes march into the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony under the flag of their homeland. This allows for the athletes to be nationalistic but at the same time to struggle to achieve a greater strength and endurance, a goal not foreign to anyone. The Olympics are used as a political vehicle to promote peace. Acts of terrorism are so entirely opposite from what the Olympics stand for that they harm more than they help.