It’s an unusual Olympic Games this year, in more ways than one. First, the games are taking place a year after their scheduled date due to the coronavirus pandemic. Also thanks to COVID-19, there are no cheering spectators present at the sporting events. The organizers of the Tokyo Olympics also did something a little different by dedicating the opening ceremony to honoring athletes who have died during the games in years past.
Particular attention was paid to the 11 Israelis murdered at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
“One group still holds a strong place in all our memories and stands for all of those we have lost at the games: the members of the Israel delegation at the Olympic Games Munich 1972,” said the announcer during this year’s opening ceremony as dancers paid tribute to the fallen.
The Israeli athletes at Munich in 1972 were abducted and eventually executed by members of the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September.
For the first time since 1972, the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the Munich Olympics are remembered at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Games
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For years, the families of the Israeli victims had lobbied the Olympic Committee to officially commemorate them, but were repeatedly rebuffed. The widows of two of the fallen Israelis were among the limited audience permitted to attend Friday’s opening ceremony.
On a brighter note, Israel won its first medal on the first full day of games on Saturday when female taekwondo fighter Avishag Semberg (see photo above) brought home the bronze.
At just 19 years of age, Semberg is Israel’s youngest ever Olympic medalist, and hers is the 10th medal Israel has ever won at the Olympics. It was also the first first time Israel has ever won a medal in taekwondo. The other fields in which Israel has won in the past are judo, canoeing and sailing.
“I still haven’t fully grasped what I did here,” said Semberg after narrowly defeating Turkey’s Rukiye Yıldırım to secure her medal.