GENEVA – The IOC apologized on Friday and deleted a Twitter message which some saw as celebrating Nazi Germany’s hosting of the 1936 Olympics.
Joining a message thread on Thursday one year before the Olympic cauldron is lit at the postponed 2020 Tokyo Games, the International Olympic Committee used its official account to tweet a film about the first-ever torch relay entering the Berlin stadium.
“We apologize to those who feel offended by the film of the Olympic Games Berlin 1936,” the IOC wrote on Friday.
“We have deleted this film, which was part of the series of films featuring the message of unity and solidarity, from the @Olympics Twitter account.”
Replies to the IOC’s original message on Thursday expressed surprise by Twitter users at broadcasting footage from the Berlin Games, and suggested the Olympic body lacked awareness of history.
The official museum at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp added its reply to the IOC in the message thread on Friday.
“For 2 weeks the Nazi dictatorship camouflaged its racist, militaristic character,” said the Auschwitz museum’s verified account. “It exploited the Games to impress foreign spectators with an image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany.”
The IOC’s message also included footage of Jesse Owens, the Black American who won four athletics gold medals in Berlin.
Owens “taught a resounding lesson to the Nazi regime, shattering its despicable fascist claims of racial superiority,” the IOC wrote on Friday.
“We understand that the film about the Olympic Games Berlin 1936 which includes this story was not perceived in this way.”
The apology follows a comment last week by the IOC's German president, Thomas Bach, that there was “no reason to rewrite history at this moment” about one of his predecessors, Avery Brundage.
Brundage, the IOC president for 20 years until 1972, has long been criticized for racist views and being a Nazi sympathizer at the Berlin Olympics where he led the United States team.
The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, which houses an extensive collection donated by Brundage, last month removed his bust from display. The museum director described Brundage as “a hateful person.”
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