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The 1972 Summer Olympics (officially the Games of the XX Olympiad and also known as Munich 1972) were an international multi-sport event held between 26 August and 11 September 1972 in Munich, West Germany. 121 nations competed in 23 sports, split amongst 195 events. The Games were opened by Federal President Gustav Heinemann of West Germany, and marked the second time Germany held the Games, the first being Berlin in 1936. It also marked the only Games to be held in West Germany.

Host city selection

Voting results for the 1972 Summer Olympic Games
City Country Round 1 Round 2
Munich West Germany 21 31
Montreal Canada 16 15
Madrid Spain 16 13
Detroit United States 6

Munich Massacre

During these Olympics, the Munich Massacre overshadowed the spirit of the Games. On September 5, a group of eight Palestinian terrorists from the group Black September broke into the athlete's village and took nine Israeli athletes hostage, killing two others right after the break-in. The standoff lasted 18 hours. That evening they were transferred by helicopter to a military base where they were to board a plane to an Arab nation. German police planned to ambush them there but underestimated the terrorists. All of the Israeli hostages were killed. Four of them were killed when a Palestinian detonated a grenade inside the helicopter in which the hostages were sitting. The five remaining hostages were then machine-gunned by another terrorist. Only three of the Palestinian terrorists survived the battle. They were imprisoned and awaiting trial before they were released in exchange for a highjacked jet and it's passengers.

The Games were suspended briefly, but then-IOC president Avery Brundage declared that the "Games must go on", and the events continued a day later.

Other Historical Events

  • For the first time ever, the Olympic Oath is taken by a referee.
  • The USA's Mark Spitz wins seven gold medals as he breaks seven world records in swimming. However, when the Games continue, the Jewish athlete leaves Germany for his own safety. This gold medal swimming record was held until 2008, when Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals.
  • The USA basketball team loses for the first time and refuses to accept the silver medal, claiming there was cheating, involving multiple deliberate timekeeping errors made at the end of the game with the Soviet Union.
  • Handball returns to the Olympics after being absent since Berlin 1936.
  • Archery also returned for the first time since Antwerp 1920.
  • Canoeing slalom made its first Olympic appearance.
  • The USA's Vincent Matthews and Wayne Collett, who had won the gold and silver (respectively) in the 400 meter run, were banned for life from the Olympics when they were twirling their medals and joking with each other as the "Star Spangled Banner" played during the award ceremony.
  • The USA's Frank Shorter was the third runner to win the gold medal in the marathon. Oddly enough, in none of these cases was the winner that first entered the stadium. Student Norbert Sudhaus dressed up in a track outfit and joined in the last quarter mile as a joke. Thinking he was the winner, the crowd began to cheer until the judges realised the stunt and pulled him off. Shorter was very confused to not only see someone ahead of him as he entered the stadium, but to hear boos that were meant for Sudhaus.

Medal table

Rank Country Gold.png Silver.png Bronze.png Total
1 Soviet Union 50 27 22 99
2 United States 33 31 30 94
3 East Germany 20 23 23 66
4 West Germany 13 11 16 39
5 Japan 13 8 8 29
6 Australia 8 7 2 17
7 Poland 7 5 9 21
8 Hungary 6 13 16 35
9 Bulgaria 6 10 5 21
10 Italy 5 3 10 18
11 Sweden 4 6 6 16
12 Great Britain 4 5 9 18
13 Romania 3 6 7 16
14 Cuba 3 1 4 8
14 Finland 3 1 4 8
16 Netherlands 3 1 1 5
17 France 2 4 7 13
18 Czechoslovakia 2 4 2 8
19 Kenya 2 3 4 9
20 Yugoslavia 2 1 2 5
21 Norway 2 1 1 4
22 North Korea 1 1 3 5
23 New Zealand 1 1 1 3
24 Uganda 1 1 0 2
25 Denmark 1 0 0 1
26 Switzerland 0 3 0 3
27 Canada 0 2 3 5
28 Iran 0 2 1 3
29 Belgium 0 2 0 2
29 Greece 0 2 0 2
31 Austria 0 1 2 3
31 Colombia 0 1 2 3
33 Argentina 0 1 0 1
33 Lebanon 0 1 0 1
33 Mexico 0 1 0 1
33 Mongolia 0 1 0 1
33 Pakistan 0 1 0 1
33 South Korea 0 1 0 1
33 Tunisia 0 1 0 1
33 Turkey 0 1 0 1
41 Brazil 0 0 2 2
41 Ethiopia 0 0 2 2
43 Ghana 0 0 1 1
43 India 0 0 1 1
43 Jamaica 0 0 1 1
43 Niger 0 0 1 1
43 Nigeria 0 0 1 1
43 Spain 0 0 1 1

Image Gallery

See also

  • Logos - A collection of logos featuring this event.
  • Torch - Information about this Olympics' torch.
Preceded by
Sapporo 1972
Olympics
1972
Succeeded by
Innsbruck 1976
Preceded by
Mexico City 1968
Summer Olympics
1972
Succeeded by
Montreal 1976
Olympic Games
Summer Olympic Games
Athens 1896Paris 1900St. Louis 1904Athens 1906 (Intercalated Games)London 1908Stockholm 1912Berlin 1916Antwerp 1920Paris 1924Amsterdam 1928Los Angeles 1932Berlin 1936London 1948Helsinki 1952Melbourne 1956Rome 1960Tokyo 1964Mexico City 1968Munich 1972Montreal 1976Moscow 1980Los Angeles 1984Seoul 1988Barcelona 1992Atlanta 1996Sydney 2000Athens 2004Beijing 2008London 2012Rio de Janeiro 2016Tokyo 2020Paris 2024Los Angeles 2028Brisbane 2032
Winter Olympic Games
Chamonix 1924St. Moritz 1928Lake Placid 1932Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936St. Moritz 1948Oslo 1952Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956Squaw Valley 1960Innsbruck 1964Grenoble 1968Sapporo 1972Innsbruck 1976Lake Placid 1980Sarajevo 1984Calgary 1988Albertville 1992Lillehammer 1994Nagano 1998Salt Lake City 2002Torino 2006Vancouver 2010Sochi 2014Pyeongchang 2018Beijing 2022Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo 2026
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