A year out from the rescheduled Tokyo games, the International Olympic Committee has apologized after tweeting a seemingly celebratory clip from the infamous 1936 Berlin games, which occurred when Germany was under Nazi rule and the games were used as a propaganda opportunity by Hitler.
- Early Thursday, the IOC’s Twitter account posted a video clip showing the first torch relay, now an iconic aspect of Olympic ceremony, and a tradition that began at the Berlin games in 1936 under Nazi Germany.
- Some Twitter users said they felt including the clip leaned too celebratory of Nazi Germany, the Associated Press reported.
- The group that runs the memorial and museum at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp weighed in on the games in a tweet and pointed out that the Nazis used the Olympics to “[camouflage] its racist, militaristic character,” and “exploited the games to impress foreign spectators with an image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany.”
- The IOC later deleted the tweet and issued an apology, saying they missed their aim of trying to show how the Olympic flame could be a unifying force.
- They said they had hoped to highlight the achievements of Jesse Owens, the Black American track star featured in sections of the clip who won gold in four events that year and, according to oft-repeated legend, enraged Adolf Hitler in the process.
- Through [Owens’] outstanding sporting achievements, he taught a resounding lesson to the Nazi regime, shattering its despicable fascist claims of racial superiority. He befriended his German competitor Luz Long, creating iconic Olympic moments of respect and solidarity,” the IOC added, to give context on their decision to include the Berlin games in their thread.
“We understand from specific reactions on social media that the film about the Olympic Games Berlin 1936, which includes Jesse Owens and Luz Long as well as the Olympic flame, was interpreted in the opposite way to that intended,” the IOC tweeted as part of a thread Friday. “The images selected for all the films were chosen to deliver the message of unity and solidarity. Those for the Olympic Games Berlin 1936 were specifically chosen for that purpose, NOT to celebrate this edition of the Games.”