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On 5 September, eight Palestinian terrorists broke into the Olympic Village, killing two members of the Israeli team and taking nine hostages. In the ensuing battle, all nine Israeli hostages were killed, as were five of the terrorists and one policeman. In defiance of the terrorists, the IOC ordered the competitions to resume after a pause of 34 hours.
All other details of the Munich Games pale in significance, but it did have its highlights. The Munich Games were the largest yet, setting records in all categories, with 195 events and 7,134 athletes from 121 National Olympic Committees.
Men’s indoor handball, slalom canoeing and kayaking all made their Olympic debuts. West German Liselott Linsenhoff, competing in the dressage event, became the first female equestrian to win a gold medal, and archery returned to the Olympic programme after a 52-year absence.
US swimmer Mark Spitz won an incredible seven gold medals and broke seven world records. Yet the media star of the Munich Games was the tiny Soviet gymnast, Olga Korbut, whose dramatic cycle of success in the team competition, failure in the individual competition and renewed success in the apparatus finals captured the attention of fans worldwide.
Athletes: 7,134 (1,059 women, 6,075 men)
The 11 days of these Games were perhaps the greatest Olympic festival ever. However, on the morning of 5 September, the Games were interrupted when eight Arab terrorists, representing the militant group "Black September" entered the Olympic Village, took hostage and then killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team- all this only 20km from Dachau. The Olympic Games were suspended for 34 hours and a mass was held in the main stadium to commemorate the victims. But the Games continued at the insistence of the IOC President Avery Brundage, who famously said "The Games must go on !"
There were several magnificent sporting performances at the 1972 Games, notably by Mark Spitz who won seven gold medals and broke seven world records.
For the first time at the Games of the Olympiad an oath is also sworn by an official.
Men's indoor handball and slalom canoeing and kayaking made their first appearance.
The comeback of archery Archery was reintroduced into the programme after an absence of 52 years.
26 August 1972, Opening Ceremony. Athlet Günter Zahn lights the Olympic Flame.
Official opening of the Games by:
President Gustav Heinemann
Lighting the Olympic Flame by:
Günter Zahn (athletics, junior 1,500m champion)
Olympic Oath by:
Heidi Schüller (athletics)
Official Oath by:
Heinz Pollay (equestrian)
It represents a crown of rays of light, a design symbolizing the spirit of the Munich Games- light, freshness, generosity, expressed by the design “Radiant Munich”. It was created by Otl Aicher, the designed and director of the visual conception commission. His project was chosen in spite of a competition whose 2 332 entries were unsatisfactory.
On the obverse, the traditional goddess of victory, a design used since the 1928 Amsterdam Games, accompanied by the specific inscription "XX Olympiade München 1972". On the reverse, Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Zeus and Léda, the patrons of sports competitions and friendship, represented by two naked youths. This design was created by Gerhard Marcks, one of the last representatives of the Bauhaus.
Number of torchbearers: around 6 200
Total distance: 5 532 km. including 1 819 km in Greece and 457 km in the Federal Republic of Germany
Countries crossed: Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, and Federal Republic of Germany
Numerous posters were created for these Games, notably a series on the theme of sports competitions and cultural events. The official poster was meant to promote not one specific sports event, but the whole of the Munich Games. It was supposed to express the specific spirit of the Games. Here, the design evokes the modern architecture of the sporting venues, in a style and using colours which are purposefully simple and pure. In the centre of the background, the famous Olympic tower. 5,000 copies were made.
“Die Spiele: the official report of the Organizing Committtee for the Games of the XXth Olympiad Munich 1972” was published in 1974 in French, English and German. It consisted of three volumes. The first two (The organization; The constructions) existed in each of the languages, while the third (The competitions) was trilingual.