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May 24, 2017

Many global sporting events targeted since 1972 Munich Olympics

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May 24, 2017

LAHORE: Just a week before the start of the International Cricket Council Champions Trophy 2017, the British city of Manchester has again been hit by terrorists, who have signalled since the 1972 Munich Olympics that sport could be a target for violent extremism.

This was the second time the Manchester city was targeted ahead of a major sports event in the United Kingdom.

The attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Monday night, which left 22 people dead, is the most deadly terror-related incident carried out in the UK since the July 7, 2005 London bombings that had claimed 56 lives.

The attack at Europe’s largest indoor arena had also left 59 people injured, many of whom are being treated for life-threatening conditions in eight hospitals across the city of Manchester, the daily “Telegraph” has reported.

Research shows that on June 15, 1996, an attack was carried out by Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Manchester when England was hosting the Euro ‘96 Football Championships and a Russia versus Germany match was to take place in this city the following day.

The IRA had detonated a powerful 1,500-kilogram (3,300 lb) truck bomb at Manchester’s Corporation Street. This was the biggest bomb detonated in Great Britain since World War II.

The terrorists had struck the city’s infrastructure and economy and caused devastating damage, estimated by insurers at £700 million (£1.2 billion as of 2017).

The IRA had sent telephoned warnings about 90 minutes before the bomb detonated. At least 75,000 people were evacuated from the area, though the bomb squad had failed to defuse the bomb in time.

More than 200 people were injured but there were no fatalities. A few major international sports events hit by terrorism during the last 30 years:

In 1986, a bomb had exploded at the headquarters of the 1992 candidature committee in Amsterdam in protest against the Dutch city’s bid for the 1992 Games.

In 1987, a Korean Air Flight 858 was destroyed in flight when a bomb hidden in an overhead compartment had detonated. All 104 passengers and 11 crew were killed. The attack was designed, in part, to disrupt the lead up to the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

During the 1996, Atlanta Olympics, a knapsack with three bombs was planted underneath a bench in the Centennial Olympic park at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Two people were killed and 120 injured in the bomb blast. In 1997, two bombs and several arson attacks around Stockholm had damaged stadiums and other sports facilities. The group claiming responsibility was aiming to disrupt/oppose Sweden’s proposal to host the 2004 Olympics & Paralympics.

In 2002, the New Zealand national cricket team’s hotel in Karachi was targeted by a suicide bomber, killing 11 French navy experts, two Pakistanis and the team’s physiotherapist. The New Zealand team had opted to fly back home.

In 2002, a car bomb close to Madrid’s main stadium had exploded just hours before the start of Real Madrid’s Champions League semi-final match against Barcelona. Some 17 people were injured.

By the way, when the July 21, 2005 bombings had rocked London, just a fortnight after the July 7, 2005 attacks, the England and Australian cricket teams were playing the 2005 Ashes series.

Revisiting this July 21, 2005 incident in its July 6, 2015 edition, “The Guardian” had stated: “At 12.26pm on July 21 a bomb went off at Shepherd’s Bush tube station on the Hammersmith & City line. Only the detonator cap exploded. The rest of it, mostly a mixture of chapatti flour and cheap hydrogen peroxide, failed to ignite. At that very moment, and just a couple of miles away, England took their fifth wicket of the first morning. Michael Clarke was lbw to Simon Jones for 11. While the players ate lunch, a second bomb went off at Oval and a third at Warren Street. Twenty minutes into the afternoon session, so did a fourth on board the No26 bus on Hackney Road. Like the first, all three malfunctioned. By stumps, England were 92 for seven, 88 runs behind, and London’s public transport network was pretty much up and running again. Leaving the ground, spectators experienced what Wisden described as “minor transport disruption” travelling home”.

Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, tried to stop play during the opening day of the 2005 Lord’s Test when he became aware that players’ wives had been caught up in another terror alert while shopping in London.

(Reference: The December 2, 2008 edition of Daily Telegraph)

The daily Telegraph had written: “The MCC refused Ponting’s request, but officials from the England and Wales Cricket Board are using Australia’s decision to remain for the rest of the Ashes as evidence to the players that England’s planned tour of India must go on. With Lord’s packed to the rafters, the MCC did not want to halt the Test, fearing that mass panic might take hold if they did. Instead, they sat Ponting down with a cup of tea and calmed him with promises to round up the wives and bring them to Lord’s. A few hours later they were in the committee room sipping champagne, a gathering that turned into a party once the players had joined them after the day’s play”.

In 2009, around a dozen gunmen with guns, rockets, and grenades had attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team bus and their police escorts in Lahore. While eight people were killed, six Sri Lankan players and an umpire were injured.

And in November 2015, three suicide bombers had detonated devices outside the stadium in Paris while France was playing Germany in an international football friendly. This was followed by several mass shootings, and a suicide bombing, at cafés and restaurants.

The attackers had killed 130 people including 89 at the Paris Bataclan Theatre. Another 368 people were injured in this incident. 


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