1972 Summer Olympics

Facts

Competition type Olympic Games
Host city München, West Germany (Venues)
Opening ceremony 26 August
Closing ceremony 11 September
Competition dates 26 August – 11 September
OCOG Organisationskomitee für die Spiele der XX. Olympiade München 1972
Participants 7114 from 121 countries
Medal events 195 in 27 disciplines
Other events 10 in 2 disciplines

Overview

The München Olympics began beneath the warm summer sun of a Bavarian afternoon and ended in the cool autumn twilight of a German evening. They began as The Games of Peace and Joy, in which the West German government attempted to atone for the militaristic Nazi image so associated with the 1936 Berlin Games. They ended as The Games of Terror and Tragedy.

Prior to the 1972 Olympics, the major controversy concerned the Rhodesian Olympic team. At its 71st Session in 1971, the IOC ruled that Rhodesian athletes could compete, but only using British uniforms, the Union Jack as the flag, and with the British anthem. Shortly before the 1972 München Olympics, the African nations threatened a mass boycott if Rhodesia was allowed to compete. Two days before the Opening Ceremony, the IOC voted (36-31 with three abstentions) to withdraw the invitation to Rhodesia for the 1972 Olympic Games.

The first eleven days of the 1972 Olympics were perhaps the most beautiful celebrations of Olympia ever seen. But on the morning of 5 September, the Games were interrupted when eight Arab terrorists, representing the militant Black September group, entered the Olympic Village and took hostage 11 members of the Israel Olympic team. While the world watched on television and waited, the terrorists occupied the building of Connollystraße 31, and demanded freedom for several Arabs held in Israel prisons. The Israel government refused this as a day of tense negotiations ensued.

Late in the evening of 5 September, the terrorists took their hostages to Fürstenfeldbruck, an Army air base near München. There, in a few quick minutes of fighting as the Germans tried to save them, all the remaining Israelis were murdered by a bomb the terrorists had set in the helicopter which was to take them to freedom. Several of the terrorists were killed, but most escaped. A few were later captured, and a few were killed by Israeli hit squads, but none ever came to trial. The American public watched the tragedy via ABC Television and saw host Jim McKay detail the events for most of the day. After the tragedy at Fürstenfeldbruck he summed up the incident in just a few sad words, “They’re all gone.”

There were some marvelous athletic performances at the 1972 Olympics, notably Mark Spitz winning seven gold medals, and setting seven world records, but they seemed of little consequence. The Games were halted for one day as a memorial service was held for the Israelis. At the memorial, IOC President Avery Brundage angered many when he declared, “The Games must go on.” The Olympics would be changed forever.

Bid process

Bid voting at the 65th IOC Session in Rome on 26 April 1966.

Round 1 Round 2
Munich West Germany 21 31
Montréal, Québec Canada 16 15
Madrid Spain 16 13
Detroit, Michigan United States 6

Ceremonies

Officially opened by Gustav Heinemann (President)
Torchbearer(s) Günter Zahn (Lit flame)
Taker of the Athlete's Oath Heidi Schüller
Taker of the Official's Oath Heinz Pollay
Flagbearers Full list
Olympic Flag Bearers Horst Meyer, Dirk Schreyer, Rüdiger Henning, Egbert Hirschfelder, Jörg Siebert, Niko Ott, Roland Böse, Gunther Tiersch

Medal Disciplines

Archery Diving Modern Pentathlon
Artistic Gymnastics Equestrian Dressage Rowing
Athletics Equestrian Eventing Sailing
Basketball Equestrian Jumping Shooting
Boxing Fencing Swimming
Canoe Slalom Football Volleyball
Canoe Sprint Handball Water Polo
Cycling Road Hockey Weightlifting
Cycling Track Judo Wrestling

Other Disciplines

Badminton Waterskiing

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Soviet Union URS 50 27 22 99
United States USA 33 31 30 94
East Germany GDR 20 23 23 66
West Germany FRG 13 11 16 40
Japan JPN 13 8 8 29
Australia AUS 8 7 2 17
Poland POL 7 5 9 21
Hungary HUN 6 13 16 35
Bulgaria BUL 6 10 5 21
Italy ITA 5 3 10 18
Sweden SWE 4 6 6 16
Great Britain GBR 4 5 9 18
Romania ROU 3 6 7 16
Cuba CUB 3 1 4 8
Finland FIN 3 1 4 8
Netherlands NED 3 1 1 5
France FRA 2 4 7 13
Czechoslovakia TCH 2 4 2 8
Kenya KEN 2 3 4 9
Yugoslavia YUG 2 1 2 5
Norway NOR 2 1 1 4
Democratic People's Republic of Korea PRK 1 1 3 5
New Zealand NZL 1 1 1 3
Uganda UGA 1 1 0 2
Denmark DEN 1 0 0 1
Switzerland SUI 0 3 0 3
Canada CAN 0 2 3 5
Islamic Republic of Iran IRI 0 2 1 3
Belgium BEL 0 2 0 2
Greece GRE 0 2 0 2
Austria AUT 0 1 2 3
Colombia COL 0 1 2 3
Argentina ARG 0 1 0 1
Lebanon LBN 0 1 0 1
Mexico MEX 0 1 0 1
Mongolia MGL 0 1 0 1
Pakistan PAK 0 1 0 1
Republic of Korea KOR 0 1 0 1
Tunisia TUN 0 1 0 1
Turkey TUR 0 1 0 1
Brazil BRA 0 0 2 2
Ethiopia ETH 0 0 2 2
Ghana GHA 0 0 1 1
India IND 0 0 1 1
Jamaica JAM 0 0 1 1
Niger NIG 0 0 1 1
Nigeria NGR 0 0 1 1
Spain ESP 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Mark Spitz USA 7 0 0 7
Sawao Kato JPN 3 2 0 5
Shane Gould AUS 3 1 1 5
Olga Korbut URS 3 1 0 4
Melissa Belote USA 3 0 0 3
Sandy Neilson USA 3 0 0 3
Karin Janz GDR 2 2 1 5
Lyudmila Turishcheva URS 2 1 1 4
Akinori Nakayama JPN 2 1 1 4
Roland Matthes GDR 2 1 1 4
Jerry Heidenreich USA 2 1 1 4

All medalists at these Games