Munich, West Germany
195 in 21 sports
The Happy Games (German: Glückliche Spiele)
7,134 (6,075 men, 1,059 women)
The 1972 Summer Olympics (German: Olympische Sommerspiele 1972), officially known as the Games of the XX Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event held in Munich, West Germany, from August 26 to September 11, 1972.
- Host city selection
- Munich massacre
- Medals awarded
- Demonstration sports
- Medal count
- Participating National Olympic Committees
The sporting nature of the event was largely overshadowed by the Munich massacre in which eleven Israeli athletes and coaches and a West German police officer were killed. Five Black September Palestinian terrorists died.
The 1972 Summer Olympics were the second Summer Olympics to be held in Germany, after the 1936 Games in Berlin, which had taken place under the Nazi regime. Mindful of the connection, the West German Government was eager to take the opportunity of the Munich Olympics to present a new, democratic and optimistic Germany to the world, as shown by the Games' official motto, "Die Heiteren Spiele", or "the cheerful Games". The logo of the Games was a blue solar logo (the "Bright Sun") by Otl Aicher, the designer and director of the visual conception commission. The Olympic mascot, the dachshund "Waldi", was the first officially named Olympic mascot. The Olympic Fanfare was composed by Herbert Rehbein, a companion of Bert Kaempfert.
The Olympic Park (Olympiapark) is based on Frei Otto's plans and after the Games became a Munich landmark. The competition sites, designed by architect Günther Behnisch, included the Olympic swimming hall, the Olympics Hall (Olympiahalle, a multipurpose facility) and the Olympic Stadium (Olympiastadion), and an Olympic village very close to the park. The design of the stadium was considered revolutionary, with sweeping canopies of acrylic glass stabilized by metal ropes, used on such a large scale for the first time.
Host city selection
Munich won its Olympic bid on April 26, 1966, at the 64th IOC Session at Rome, Italy, over bids presented by Detroit, Madrid, and Montréal. Montreal would eventually host the following Olympic games in 1976.
The Games were largely overshadowed by what has come to be known as the "Munich massacre". Just before dawn on September 5, a group of eight members of the Black September Palestinian terrorist organization broke into the Olympic Village and took nine Israeli athletes, coaches and officials hostage in their apartments. Two of the hostages who resisted were killed in the first moments of the break-in; the subsequent standoff in the Olympic Village lasted for almost 18 hours.
Late in the evening of September 5 that same day, the terrorists and their hostages were transferred by helicopter to the military airport of Fürstenfeldbruck, ostensibly to board a plane bound for an undetermined Arab country. The German authorities planned to ambush them there, but underestimated the numbers of their opposition and were thus undermanned. During a botched rescue attempt, all of the Israeli hostages were killed. Four of them were shot, then incinerated when one of the terrorists detonated a grenade inside the helicopter in which the hostages were sitting. The five remaining hostages were then machine-gunned to death.
All but three of the terrorists were killed as well. Although arrested and imprisoned pending trial, they were released by the West German government on October 29, 1972, in exchange for a hijacked Lufthansa jet. Two of those three were supposedly hunted down and assassinated later by the Mossad. Jamal Al-Gashey, who is believed to be the sole survivor, is still living today in hiding in an unspecified African country with his wife and two children. The Olympic events were suspended several hours after the initial attack, but once the incident was concluded, Avery Brundage, the International Olympic Committee president, declared that "the Games must go on". A memorial ceremony was then held in the Olympic stadium, and the competitions resumed after a stoppage of 24 hours. The attack prompted heightened security at subsequent Olympics beginning with the 1976 Winter Olympics. Security at Olympics was heightened further beginning with the 2002 Winter Olympics, as they were the first to take place since September 11, 2001.
The massacre led the German federal government to re-examine its anti-terrorism policies, which at the time were dominated by a pacifist approach adopted after World War II. This led to the creation of the elite counter-terrorist unit GSG 9, similar to the British SAS. It also led Israel to launch a campaign known as Operation Wrath of God, in which those suspected of involvement were systematically tracked down and assassinated.
The events of the Munich massacre were chronicled in the Oscar-winning documentary, One Day in September. An account of the aftermath is also dramatized in three films: the 1976 made-for-TV movie 21 Hours at Munich, the 1986 made-for-TV movie Sword of Gideon and Steven Spielberg's 2005 film Munich. In her film 1972, Artist Sarah Morris interviews Dr. Georg Sieber, a former police psychiatrist who advised the Olympics' security team, about the events and aftermath of Black September.
The Oxford Olympics Study established the outturn cost of the Munich 1972 Summer Olympics at USD 1.0 billion in 2015-dollars. This includes sports-related costs only, that is, (i) operational costs incurred by the organizing committee for the purpose of staging the Games, e.g., expenditures for technology, transportation, workforce, administration, security, catering, ceremonies, and medical services, and (ii) direct capital costs incurred by the host city and country or private investors to build, e.g., the competition venues, the Olympic village, international broadcast center, and media and press center, which are required to host the Games. Indirect capital costs are not included, such as for road, rail, or airport infrastructure, or for hotel upgrades or other business investment incurred in preparation for the Games but not directly related to staging the Games. The cost for Munich 1972 compares with costs of USD 4.6 billion for Rio 2016 and USD 15 billion for London 2012, the latter being the most costly Summer Olympics to date. Average cost for Summer Games since 1960 is USD 5.2 billion.
The 1972 Summer Olympic programme featured 195 events in the following 21 sports:
CalendarAll times are in Central European Time (UTC+1)
These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1972 Games.
* Host nation (West Germany)
Participating National Olympic Committees
Eleven nations made their first Olympic appearance in Munich: Albania, Dahomey (now Benin), Gabon, North Korea, Lesotho, Malawi, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Swaziland, Togo, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso).
The Parade of Nations was organised according to the German alphabet, with the first country following Greece being Egypt, whilst East Germany was referred to as DDR (not Deutsche Demokratische Republik, German Democratic Republic), the Soviet Union as UdSSR and the United States as USA as well as the host country as Deutschland (Germany).
Rhodesia's invitation to take part in the 1972 Summer Games was withdrawn by the International Olympic Committee four days before the opening ceremony, in response to African countries' protests against the Rhodesian government. (Rhodesia did, however, compete in the 1972 Summer Paralympics, held a little earlier in Heidelberg.)