Munich to be commemorated at Jerusalem 2032 Summer Olympics

JERUSALEM | Times of Israel News Service | March 5, 2032

A joint press release from the Israeli Olympic Committee Chairman Omri Casspi and his Palestinian counterpart, Nader al-Masri outlined how the 60th anniversary of the Munich Massacre will be commemorated at the 2032 Summer Olympics opening ceremony later this summer.

We have decided to focus on the personal tragedy of the athletes and on the Olympic spirit of international cooperation rather than adopting the Israeli or Palestinian interpretation of the events. It goes without saying that our two nations have very different ways of looking at Munich, but if we have learned anything from the long process that will be crowned by the 2032 Jerusalem games, it is that we can come to a solution without either side having to give up its story.

One day before the ceremony, the Olympic torch will be used to light eleven memorial candles, commemorating the eleven Israeli athletes and coaches killed in Munich, on the stage of Peres Stadium, the site of the opening ceremony. Just prior to the ceremonial lighting of the Olympic flame, all lights will be extinguished except for the eleven candles and images of the eleven slain athletes. Guri Weinberg will then reciteKaddish, the Jewish prayer in memory of the dead, in memory of his father, slain wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg. At the conclusion of the Kaddish, Weinberg and Amina Hamshari will then light the Olympic flame, marking the beginning of the games. Hamshari’s father, Dr. Mahmoud Hamshari, was the PLO representative in France and is believed to have organized the massacre. He was assassinated in an Israeli operation a few months after the Munich games.

The co-lighting of the flame is thought to be a compromise: Palestine initially wanted to include its dead in the commemoration, while Israel refused to equate the athletes with their killers. The proposed arrangement will acknowledge the slain athletes as individuals and Olympians, and the joint lighting of the flame will symbolize both the tragedy of the event as well as the possibility of reconciliation.

“After a century of war, including almost 30 excruciating years of peacemaking efforts, the difficult task of assembling an unprecedented and successful two-nation Olympic bid that would satisfy both countries as well as the security concerns of the International Olympic Committee seemed comparatively easy. And coming up with the right way to remember Munich was a relative cinch,” the press release continued.

The Jerusalem 2032 Olympic bid is the brainchild of a group of Palestinian and Israeli entrepreneurs, who unveiled their plans in 2019. Their proposal helped inject optimism into a moribund peace process, playing a significant role in the signing of the 2023 comprehensive peace accords. Although the IOC formally awarded the 2032 games to Jerusalem only in 2025, it had long been presumed that the Jerusalem bid would prevail if peace were achieved.

The press release concluded: “We have come a long way since 1972. Who would have thought, in the wake of that tragedy, that Jerusalem would one day host a joint Palestinian-Israeli Olympic games? The spirit of cooperation and international camaraderie, the Olympic spirit, enables us to remain hopeful even in the darkest times. In that sense, the entire 2032 Jerusalem Summer Olympics is a tribute and memorial to Munich.”


About the Author
Elli Fischer is a writer and translator from Baltimore and living in Modiin. His articles have appeared in Commentary, the Jewish Review of Books, the New York Jewish Week, Jewish Ideas Daily, Jewish Action, Jerusalem Post, the Intermountain Jewish News, and elsewhere, and been featured on Arts & Letters Daily and RealClearReligion, among others. He has rabbinical ordination from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and enjoys having ADD.