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Close up to the altercation
By Peter Jennings
Special to ABC Sports Online

Peter Jennings was a news correspondent for ABC Sports at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. With his knowledge of the Middle East, he played a prominent role during ABC's coverage of the events in Munich. He sat down with ABC Sports for its documentary "Our Greatest Hopes, Our Worst Fears: The Tragedy of the Munich Games". Here is a transcript of what he had to say.

I went into the Olympic Village and ended up closer to Building 31 into the Italian's dorm. I was able to stay there largely because of their cooperation. The police came and swept out the reporters, but the Italians said, "Why don't you just stay in the bathroom," so I did and I was able to stay there.

I have never forgotten how good my Telefunken two-way radio was. There was a telephone but it didn't reach out to the balcony, but I had my two-way radio. It operated superbly all day long.

We had a wonderful vantage point of the front door, so as the negotiators came and went, we could see precisely what was happening, but had no idea of the context. So half of your mind is working with what's in it for you. At one point, food went in, but we had no idea who had died or how many people had died. We knew the terrorists were watching television and in some ways had a better vantage point than I did. I remember when the German snipers came and we could see them, but you could see them on television and I knew the terrorists could see them as well.

When the hostages and the terrorists went through the basement and the underground to the buses, I thought something still might happen, but then they got into the helicopters. It's the starkest image I have. They swooped around into the night with their belly lights flashing at us. I thought it was somehow resolved. I had no idea they were going to Furstenfeldbruck. None of us did. How could we?

It didn't surprise me at all when we heard the first reports. We simply didn't understand what the setup was at Furstenfledbruck. We had no idea whether there was going to be a confrontation. And I thought these guys were going to get out of the country. Everyone was more focused on the hostages. If the terrorists got away, that's one thing, but if the hostages were saved, that's the important thing.

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Munich memories

Jennings: History of the region

Israeli athletes' terms of endurance


video
 Peter Jennings remembers the tragedy of the Munich Games.
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

 Jim McKay tells the world, "Our worst fears have been realized."
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

 Jim McKay announces that terrorists have taken hostages inside the Olympic Village.
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1