Wednesday, July 25, 2012

OIympics : History of the Modern Games - 1972 Munich

The 1972 Summer Olympics were officially known as the Games of the XX Olympiad, and were held in Munich, West Germany. The official motto was "the Happy Games," and although the intention was well meant what transpired was the saddest outcome of any Olympiad. The optimistic logo for the games was a bright blue sun designed by Hungarian artist Viktor Vasarely. For the first time, the Olympic Oath was taken by a representative of the referees.

The Olympic Park (Olympiapark) was based on Frei Otto's plans, with sweeping canopies of acrylic glass stabilized by metal ropes. 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. Eleven nations made their first Olympic appearance in Munich: Albania, Burkina Faso (as Upper Volta), Benin (as Dahomey), Gabon, North Korea, Lesotho, Malawi, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Swaziland, Togo.


The 1972 Olympic Games saw the introduction of the first official Olympic mascot called "Waldi". The striped dachshund character was designed by Otl Aicher (Otto Aicher). He also originated a new set of sports pictograms which consisted of stick figures which were eventually adopted for public signs.

The sporting nature of the games was largely overshadowed by the Munich massacre in which eleven Israeli athletes and coaches, a West German police officer, and five terrorists were killed. Munich became known as the Black September Games . The attack prompted heightened security at all subsequent Olympic events .

Mark Spitz, a swimmer from the United States, set a world record when he won seven gold medals (while on the way to setting a new world record for each of his seven gold medals) in a single Olympics, bringing his lifetime total to nine (he had won two golds in Mexico City's Games four years earlier). Being Jewish, Spitz was forced to leave Munich before the closing ceremonies for his own protection, after fears arose that he would be an additional target of those responsible for the Munich massacre. Spitz's record stood until 2008, when it was beaten by Michael Phelps who won 8 gold medals in the pool.

Nike introduced wedged heeled running shoes. After winning the 10,000 m., Lasse Virén did a lap of honour barefoot holding his running shoes aloft. This is thought to represent the first publicity stunt to promote a specific brand.

Kip Keino won gold in the 1500m and 3000m steeplechase was one of the first athletes to wear open mesh design running shoes. Atthe end of each lap there is a water jump and open mesh shoes were designed to cope with the water.

Steve Profontane was a middle and long-distance runner who became the first major track person to wear Nikes.

Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut became known as the Munchkin of Munich. The 17-year-old won three gold medals. More significantly, her personal charm, flair and grace turned artistic gymnastics into a global television spectacle, as live broadcasts reached more people and more nations than ever before.

After the final of the men's hockey the Pakistan hockey team protested at the poor refereeing and refused their silver medals as runners up. Eventually the team recanted and some chose to wear them on their shoes. The entire team was suspended.

A medical adviser for Britain’s team recommended athletes indulge in “about half an hour of sexual activity to maximize the onset, quantity, and quality of sleep” the night before an athletic event. But he warned that athletes following his advice should be accustomed to a pattern of sexual intercourse. Otherwise, he said, “the muscle tension involved might result in severe stiffness and aching the next day.”

Reviewed 22/03/2016

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