The Munich Olympics opened on August 26, 1972.
The following day, Shirley Povitch wrote in the Washington Post:
It was a smashing effort by the opulent city-state of Munich, only seven miles from the Dachau of foul memory, to compensate for Germany’s remembered sins of that era. For the crowd of 80,000 in Olympische Stadion and almost one billion television viewers around the world, Munich wheeled out its best Bavarian manners, and Gemutlichkeit was rampant. Peace, love and joy were the motif of the ceremonies. From on high in Bonn descended the order to stomp any military note, and even army officers detailed to help with the administration had orders to wear civilian clothes. After the parades, 3,200 boys and girls of Munich, aged 10-14, serenaded the 7,000 athletes before the Olympic flame was lighted. This was a switch from 1936 when thousands of Hitler Youth, shouting the glories of Nazi Germany, attended the Olympics in Berlin, and 40,000 helmeted storm troopers lined an avenue for the entrance of their Fuehrer. The Germans were on their good behavior today, and thinking of everything. They gave the opening ceremonies a script unmatched by any previous Olympics, even to edging the entire stadium with the pale, robin’s-egg blue uniforms of the thousands of hostesses and Olympic workers framed against the 360-degree skyline. The joyful skip-dances of Munich’s children were tasteful affairs as they brandished their flower wreaths woven with halo effects.
Opening day at the Munich Olympics wasn’t all sweetness and light. Twenty members of the Rhodesian team (Rhodesia is now known as Zimbabwe.) watched the ceremonies from the stands. Their team was “uninvited” four days before the start of the games.
Rhodesia has been thrown out of the Olympic Games with just four days to go before the opening ceremony in Munich, Germany.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted by 36 to 31 with three abstentions to recommend Rhodesia’s expulsion in the face of mounting international pressure. Two days ago the National Olympic Committees of Africa threatened to pull out of the games unless Rhodesia was barred from competing.
The African nations were demanding Rhodesia’s expulsion on the grounds the country was an illegal regime and members of its team were not therefore British subjects. Read more, BBC.com
There was also a March against the War in Vietnam The LA Times reported:
About 5,000 anti-Vietnam War protestors marched through Munich Saturday.
The demon strators, armed with clubs hidden beneath their jackets and holding masks and helmets, marched behind a banne r. It read, “Two Faces of Imperialism— Genocide in Vietnam and a Peace Show in Munich.”
Special trains and buses had brought the protestors from various areas of Germany.
And of course among the 7,000 athletes who marched into the Olympic Stadium, were several Israeli team members who were massacred by terrorists, 10 days after the opening ceremonies.
This one still stinks – The Olympics at its worst. The U.S. Olympic basketball streak ended, after being unbeaten since the sport was introduced at the 1936 games. Going into this game the U.S. team’s record was 62-0.
In fairness to the Soviet team that allegedly won, it wasn’t their fault that they had played superbly and were within a point of the Americans when the game should have ended. And it wasn’t their fault the Americans played poorly and allowed the Russians to stay in the game. And they didn’t create the chaos that ensued as the game ended, all three times.
Then again, they missed an opportunity to go down in history as among the greatest sportsmen of all time, if they would have exchanged their tainted gold medals for what would have been the most honored and celebrated silver medal accomplishment in the history of the Olympics.
But they didn’t.
Dave Wottle always wore an old golf cap when he trained and competed, and this made him immediately recognisable in the opening rounds of the 800m at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich (see photo above). In the final, Wottle immediately dropped to the rear of the field, and stayed there for the first 600m, at which point he started his characteristic late drive, passing runner after runner up the straight, and finally grabbing the lead in the final metres to win by just 0.03sec. At the victory ceremony, Wottle had unconsciously forgotten to remove his golf cap. This was interpreted as a form of protest, which drew a tearful apology to the American people from Wottle when he was questioned about it at a press conference. Read more, sporting-heroes.net.