Death and other tragedies at the Olympics

Traditionally, wars were silenced around the world for the duration of the Olympics, and a truce was called between feuding people. However, the harsh reality is not always compatible with long-held principles.

Terrorist attack in Munich, 1972. The twentieth summer Olympics

The bloody massacre took place on September 5. The story is little revealed by the German secret services, though it is the loudest among the tragedies of the Olympics. It is not spoken about, it is avoided. It is possible that the cause of the tragedy was the illiterate organization of the security of the Olympic territory. Based on the sad experience of their German counterparts, before the Olympics, an anti-terrorist group “Alpha” was formed in Moscow. On our website, you can also find a lot of interesting and unusual sports news.

The main participants in the event were terrorists of the Black September group. The Palestinian group of eight penetrated the territory of the Olympic village. The group had a stock of weapons with them. The hijackers broke into the house, where the weightlifters and wrestlers of the Israeli team were staying. The athletes were taken by surprise, since it was early in the morning, and no one was able to offer resistance. No one could make a prediction on such a development.

The terrorists promised to kill one person an hour unless the authorities agreed to their demands, that is, the release of more than 200 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. It was difficult for them to enter into negotiations. Once they felt in control of the situation, they were in a position to manipulate the human rights activists.

There is little mention of the negotiations. The reason is that the security services made several mistakes in the conduct of the special operation: they did not accept the help of the Israeli military, did not take into account the number of fighters, and perhaps did not negotiate competently, succumbed to the provocations of the terrorists.

The results were disastrous. 11 members of the Israeli team were killed by the terrorists. The operation was over, but some of the terrorists survived and escaped. The Israeli secret service, the Mossad, after the ‘Wrath of God’s operation, reported the elimination of the occupants of the Olympic village.

Death of a tobogganist, Vancouver, 2010. XXI Olympic Winter Games

The tragedy took place on one of the most difficult toboggans and bobsleigh tracks in the world. The almost 1.5 km long course with complex sharp turns and steep drops of up to 150 m.

Specialists warned that the competition area was not safe. But the Canadians were so proud of their record-breaking times that the warnings faded into the background.

A few hours before the official opening ceremony of the Games, on February 12, a tragedy happened at the training. Nodar Kumaritashvili, a Georgian luge athlete, could not make the difficult last difficult turn. At a speed of more than 140 kilometers per hour, he went off the track through metal support and crashed into a metal barrier.

Doctors immediately began to render medical aid, but the 21-year-old sportsman had injuries incompatible with life and died without regaining consciousness. The opening ceremony was also a time of mourning for the Georgian athletes. The teams wore black ribbons, and there was a minute of silence for the deceased luger.

Later, the blame for the accident was put down to the inexperience of the athlete and his mistake in driving. Later, other competitors were also not seriously injured on the ski slope.

Deaths in Innsbruck, 1964, Winter Olympic Games

Two tragedies occurred 10 days apart, before the opening of the Olympics, in training. The first accident happened to the British luger Kazimierz Kai-Skrzipeski. The 54-year-old athlete lost control and flew out of the chute. After flying more than 15 meters, he hit the ground. Doctors fought for the life of the honorable Olympian, but they couldn’t do anything. The next day in the hospital the man died during surgery.

Less than two weeks after the tobogganist’s death, Ross Milne was badly injured and died during downhill skiing practice. The 19-year-old skier was blown off the track and crashed into a tree. An aggravating circumstance was the lack of helmets, at that time they were not stipulated in the regulations.

It is not said who was to blame for the tragedy, the administration of the Games laid the blame on the athlete and his inexperience, but a small association of Australians did not agree with the official version and considered the cause of the accident as the bad organization of the track and carelessness of the skiers’ equipment.

Immediately after the tragedies, the Olympic Committee revised the rules of protection for skiers and lugers: extra sides were added to the tracks, and tree trunks were covered with straw.

Death of a cyclist, 1960, Rome, Summer Olympics

Knud Enemark Jensen is a young Danish sportsman who took part in a 100 km bicycle race in the open countryside in 45-degree heat. At that moment, several riders had already dropped out of the race due to overheating and sunstroke. At the last kilometer of the track, Knud felt unwell and shouted to his teammates that he felt dizzy and slowed down.

In order not to disqualify the team it was necessary to reach the finish line with the rest of the team, so the exhausted Knud was pulled, not allowing him to fall off the bike. One of the partners poured water from a bottle and he felt better, but not for long. He collapsed lifelessly on the asphalt and died soon after, despite medical help.

The case did not end in a tragic death. The coach of the team later admitted that he had given the athletes a vasodilator. In the report of the doctors who conducted the autopsy, there was no mention of foreign drugs, the cause of death was called a heat stroke and a blow to the head resulting from a fall from a bicycle. A few years later, one of the doctors made public the news that the report concealed details about the presence of various nervous system stimulants and amphetamines in his body.

The tragedy did not come without consequences. The death of the athlete and the discovery of stimulants in his system were the prerequisites for the creation of the IOC.

Terrorist attack 1996, Atlanta, Summer Olympics

More than 20 years had passed since the terrorist attack in Munich. The cautiousness of the organizers had dissolved away in the calculation of profits for the Olympics, so many security rules were ignored. The result was an event that almost repeated the tragedy of Germany.

On July 27, there was a huge explosion near the Olympic Village. Athletes were living and training on the territory. Two people were killed, and 11 more were injured and hospitalized.

All police forces were scrambled to find the attacker, but they were so poorly organized that the perpetrator managed to escape for a year, after which he again set off an explosion in Atlanta, but this time near a medical facility.

It was not until the third bombing in Birmingham that the perpetrator was caught. He received four life sentences and was not eligible for clemency. Based on the events of Atlanta 1996, Clint Eastwood directed the feature film The Ballad of Richard Jewell.

Olympic Champion. Posthumous. 1948, London, Summer Olympics

Czech gymnast Eliška Misakova dreamed of Olympic gold. On her way to the Olympics in an airplane, the girl felt unwell: she had a fever and complained of dizziness, weakness, and heaviness throughout the body. Doctors who examined the gymnast interpreted it as a cold.  

Within days Eliska found herself in a London hospital with a horrible diagnosis – polio. Within a matter of time, her arms and legs refused to listen to her and on the last day of the competition, the athlete passed away.

Upon learning of her death, the national team, deep in grief, performed with astonishing accuracy and won. Eliška’s sister Miloslava, who is the oldest winner of the Olympic Games in the Czech Republic, was part of the team. At the awarding ceremony in memory of the deceased athlete, the only time in the history of the Olympic Games that Eliška Misakova was also given the title of champion posthumously.  

Unlisted sport. 1992, Winter Olympics

The tragedy happened to Nicolas Beauchatte. One day he discovered speed skiing, a sport where you have to reach the fastest speed while skiing downhill. That year the program was experimental and Nicolas wanted to compete.

During the warm-up, the athlete collided with a machine that compacted the snow. Injuries were incompatible with life. The tragedy was widely discussed and speed-skating was never included in the Olympics program.

Safety at the Olympics is a high priority today. However, it is a result, bred through many tragic cases and deaths. But even today, serious injuries to athletes cannot be ruled out.


Ajay Deep

Ajay Deep is a young enthusiast who Loves Chandigarh and is always eager to make this beautiful city even more beautiful. A Mechanical Engineer By Chance and Working in an IT MNC by Choice. A Writer, Photographer and a Budding Entrepreneur. A Designer, Developer and Digital Marketing Expert. In brief : A Jack of All Trades and Master of Few :) You may reach Ajay Deep at
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