Security and safety are always of utmost concern and priority at an Olympic Games. This year in Sochi has been no exception. We’ve all seen story after story in the media about the unrest, and unease, plaguing some who are traveling to Russia for the start of the Olympics today.
Threats of violence are nothing new when large crowds, representing countries from all over the world, are gathering in one location. We’re taking a look back across the last fifty years at some other crises at Olympic Games, and how the events were covered by the media at the time.
Mexico was undergoing the birth of a new student movement in the summer of 1968. This movement was a student movement triggered by an ideological clash between generations. The purpose of this movement was to show their disappointment with their society, trying to make a better world. That movement didn’t last too long. October 2, 1968, only ten days before the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Mexico City, police officers and military troops shot into a mass of defenseless students. Thousands of protesters fled in fear as tanks made their way through Tlatelolco Plaza. The government originally claimed that four people had been killed and 20 injured, while eyewitnesses said there were hundreds of bodies being taken away. Thousands of students were beaten and imprisoned, and several vanished. Over 40 years later, the ending death toll remains unknown, but documents newly released by the U.S. and Mexican governments give a clearer representation of what may have caused the massacre. Those documents propose that snipers posted by the military fired on the wrong troops, causing them to begin firing on the students.
Eight assailants for the Palestinian Black September Organization broke into an apartment complex that was housing the Israeli Olympic team on September 5, 1972 during the Munich Olympic Games. At first, nine members of the team were taken hostage and two were killed. By 5 a.m. the next morning, the police had been alerted and news of the attack had spread so far across the world that it caused the terrorist to demand Israel to free over 200 Palestinian inmates. The assailants and hostages journeyed by bus and helicopter to a neighboring air base where a plane was waiting. Once at the base, police opened fire and a shootout took place in which one of the perpetrators ignited a grenade in the helicopter carrying the hostages. In the end, all nine hostages, one West German cop and five Black September assailants were killed.