Bromley eye-witness to Olympic terror killing relives fear
16:21 06 September 2012
The Israeli hostages were forced up against the windows, gun barrels pressed up against their backs. Rik Evans, then just 18, was at his first Olympics but had never anticipated the horrific scenes that were unfolding before his eyes in the athletes’ village that day.
Huddled behind closed curtains Rik and team mate Geoff Cooke hid from the view of Palestinian terrorist group Black September just 50 metres away, watching the events of the infamous Munich massacre.
Over an 18-hour period 11 Israelis would lose their lives in a failed rescue attempt by German authorities.
Just minutes before, Evans and Cooke had been returning to their rooms from training when they were propositioned by a journalist who asked if they wanted to see the ongoing stand-off between the terrorists and the police from an apartment.
Snippets of news had been filtering throughout the day of an incident unfolding in the athletes’ accommodation and the two cyclists were curious.
“At that point it was known that some of the hostages had been shot,” explains Rik.
But news was not what is today – ubiquitous and rolling. You could have not known what was happening. It was quite easy to ignore.”
Upon entering the apartment, Rik found it was overrun with journalists and athletes, united by horror at the scenes unfolding before their eyes coming from the Israeli accommodation – the Connollystrasse.
They were not the only ones. Millions of people worldwide were glued to their TV sets – it was a disaster for the Germans trying to rebuild their image in the wake of WW2.
Munich organisers had billed the global event as the “carefree games” and elected for the lightest security perhaps ever seen at an Olympics.
It was an attempt to banish memories of Hitler’s propaganda drive in 1936 in Berlin: swastikas and teams performing Nazi salutes. “It was a bit of a maverick situation in that apartment with the other journalists, it certainly would not have been allowed today,” recounts Rik. “It was very strange being only 50 metres from the apartment where they were. I could see each of their faces and one of the terrorists with a rifle.”
Fearless, perhaps due to his young age, he admits at one point he poked his head out to get better view.
“I stuck my head out of the window and the gunman looked around and saw me – I bolted back inside to safety.
“The Israeli hostages were forced up against the windows, gun barrels pressed up against their backs.”
Surprisingly, Rik admits that when he left the apartment, his thoughts quickly switched back to the velodrome.
“The thing is everyone was so focused on their own job it was case of being selfish in some respects for the athletes,” he confesses.
As first reserve Rik, now 58 and a teacher, would later watch his team mates secure a bronze medal and says it was only when they returned home did they realise the significance of what they had seen from the apartment.