As the London Olympic games wind down and become a part of history, we’re taking a look back at Olympics past. Specifically, Munich, Germany, in 1972.
Athletes from around the world were there to compete, before the unthinkable happened.
A Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September captured and killed 11 athletes from the Israeli team. It was an infamous attack now known as the Munich Massacre.
Dan Alon was an Israeli fencing champion who narrowly escaped that deadly day.
He’s never fenced again, and until recently, he’s never spoken out about his story of survival.
Alon was 27 years old when he earned his spot on the Israeli Olympic team. For the young nation’s top fencer, it was a dream come true.
“It was a great time to be there,” Alon remembered of the Munich Olympics. “We were together — friendship — and we were only discussing sports. We were never talking about politics.”
Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians were at an-all time high, but Alon and his fellow competitors knew that was not what the Olympics were about.
“We had a good time together,” Alon recalled.
That was until 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 5, when everything changed.
“We were all asleep. Eight Palestinians attacked our building,” Alon said. “They went to apartment No. 1, and they caught all the coaches, and they killed two Israeli athletes. Then, they went out and went to No. 3.”
Alon was in apartment No. 2. He says he and four other teammates sat in petrified silence, listening for an hour as the terrorists took nine athletes hostage.
“We saw how they threw out the body of the wrestlers on the pavement,” Alon remembered.
It was too late to fight back.
“We took a chance, and we ran out,” Alon said.
It was a choice he believes saved his life.
The hostage situation would end in a shootout with German authorities later that day.
All nine hostages, along with five of their captors and one German police officer, were killed.
“You don’t stop thinking about this. You don’t stop,” Alon said. “You become concerned a lot. You worry a lot. You don’t see any more pink. You only see black. It’s a completely different kind of life.”
Forty years after the massacre, 11 candles burn inside a room at the Wort Hotel in Jackson — each candle for one athlete whose life was cut too short.
Over four decades, security details would grow larger and larger at Olympic games.
What strikes Alon is that the Olympic Committee in London denied a request for a moment of silence to remember those who perished during that fateful day.
“People who understand the Olympic games know it’s for peace, for friendship. Forget about security. That’s what I’d like to see in the future,” Alon said.
Alon now manages a plastics packaging company in his home town of Tel Aviv.
He maintains strong relationships with the widows of his fallen teammates.