Officially recognized as “Games of the XX Olympiad”, the 1972 Summer Olympics were held in the West German city of Munich from the 26th of August to the 11th of September. Munich won the bid to host the games in the year 1966, overtaking the bids placed by Madrid, Detroit and Montreal.
The Munich Olympics were the second Olympic Games to be held in Germany; the first one being the Berlin Games held in the year 1936, when Germany was under Hitler’s rule. Mindful of this fact, the West German government wanted to portray the transition which the country underwent after the conclusion of the Second World War. Hence, the official motto for the Games was “the Happy Games” and official logo consisted of a blue colored sun which the Germans called, “the Bright Sun”. The 1972 Munich Games also witnessed the introduction of an Olympic Mascot for the first time ever. “Waldi”, a dachshund, was named the mascot for the Munich Olympics and numerous depictions of him could be seen throughout the progress of the games.
The “Munich Massacre”:
The “Munich Massacre” is considered by numerous people as one of the darkest events in the history of sport. On the 5th of September, approximately 10 days after the Olympics had begun, 8 “Black September” Palestinian terrorists penetrated the boundaries of the Olympic Village and took 11 Israeli, coaches, officials and athletes hostage in their own apartments. 2 of the athletes were immediately assassinated because they made an effort to resist the wrath of the terrorists. Later that day, the terrorists and the hostages were moved to the military airport in Fürstenfeldbruck in a helicopter at the requests of the terrorists. They were later supposed to make a move to some unknown Arabian country in a jet plane. The German authorities planned to ambush the terrorists in the airport and rescue the hostages, but they misjudged the number of terrorists and were short of men. 5 of the terrorists and all the hostages were killed in the rescue operation. The three remaining terrorists were arrested but were later released in exchange for a Lufthansa plane which was hijacked.
Apart from the “Munich Massacre”, the 1972 Olympics are also remembered for the world record set by famous American swimmer, Mark Spitz. He won seven gold medals (setting a world record for each of those events in the process), becoming the player to win the maximum number of medals in a single Olympics. He could have won more, but had to leave the games before they were concluded for his own safety. He was a Jew and the authorities thought that he would become an additional target of the Palestinian terrorists responsible for the “Munich Massacre”.
The 1972 Olympics also witnessed the most controversial basketball game in Olympic history. It was the gold medal game between the United States and USSR. The clock was reset three times with three seconds to go and the United States leading 50-49. This recurring resetting of the clock gave the Soviets an opportunity to score and win the game 51-50. The United States team refused to accept the Silver Medal and hasn’t accepted it till date. The captain of the side, Kenneth Davis went on to mention in his will that, even after he dies, his wife or his children aren’t allowed to accept that silver medal.