The 1972 Olympic games were one of a kind. Hostages. Standoffs. Murders.
Snipers. Disasters. These games saw them all. While I could give you a brief history lesson, I figure this video summarizes it quite nicely. This tragic mishandling of a terrorist situation led Germany and many other nations to develop counter-terrorism divisions soon after. While these games saw the ultimate demise of 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team and a German officer, one would think that the IOC (International Olympic Committee) would have acquiesced to the victims’ families and had a moment of silence on the 40th anniversary of the event at the 2012 games. However, the IOC claims not to want to mix politics with the games by honoring these athletes (which is exactly what they’re doing by not honoring athletes who were killed during the games). This editorial by Frida Ghitis gets to the heart of the matter and why I, like many other reviewers, see the actions of the IOC to be cowardice.
Munich Game Highlights
- The US finished second in the medal count with 94 (33 gold, 31 silver, 30 bronze). The Soviet Union finished first with 99, East Germany in third with 66 and the host West Germany with 40.
- Mark Spitz, a US Swimmer, set a world record by winning seven gold medals (and setting a new world record for each of his medals). His records stood until 2008 when it was beaten by Michael Phelps who won 8 gold medals.
- Men’s basketball lost to the USSR in “the most controversial game in international basketball history.” Initially the US won 50-49, however, the final 3 seconds were replayed twice and the Soviet team regained the lead and won with a 51-50 victory. The US team refused their silver medals, which remain in a vault in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The 1972 Olympic Committee spent only $2 million on security. Compared to the more than $2 billion spent on the London 2012 Olympics, this shows the inadequecy of the Games past. Once again, my visit was marred by the city using the facilities for some other purpose. While I was able to get a tour of the swimming facilities (which are now a local aquatics arena locals pay dues to use – similar to a YMCA) and see where the athletes warmed-up, that is the only facility I got to really explore as Munich decided to host the X-Games.
Hyped up on free Red Bull, kettle corn and sausages, it was cool to explore these extreme sports. While I couldn’t find a way to enter the Olympic Stadium once again, I am finding it rather nice that these sites are in use and not rotting away on the people’s dime.