Having awarded the Games since 1966, the Germans built a magnificent
complex on the rubble of World War II bombings on Munich. An ideal combination
of athletes' residential quarters and competition fields, at a cost of $ 650
million. New electronic measuring devices appeared for the first time. Among
these a new measuring method based on trigonometry for the throwing events.
Star of the Games was unanimously voted the Californian dentist Mark Spitz, who dominated the swimming events and who smashed all records for a single Games appearance, winning seven gold medals. With his medals from Mexico City, Spitz held a total on nine golds, one silver, and one bronze.
Soviet Valeriy Borzov became the first European to win a men's sprint double. However the outstanding attraction of the first days was Olga Korbut, the Russian charming young lady whose gamine qualities stole the show. Virtually overnight, with blanket media coverage, Olga became an international superstar of the gymnastics.
All seem to be under happy way when, on September 5, at 4.40' in the morning all the happiness seemed to evaporate. Five Black September men climbed the Village fence and entered the building at No. 41 of Konnollystrasse, where the Israeli wrestling team was residing. In a few moments and under a general alert situation that erupted, they announced that they'd execute all Israeli wrestlers unless some Palestinian prisoners in Israel were set free. To prove their intention they execute one of the team's trainers and throw his body out in the street. At 10.30', while negotiations have already began between German and Israeli authorities, the terrorists demand and are granted a helicopter to take them out of Munich. They end up in an abandoned airfield in West Munich. At 12.30' the Israeli authorities send their negative and final answer. Negotiations, now, between terrorists and German authorities are being held personally by Hans Dietrich Genscher. The terrorists insist in their initial demand. Hours of silence and agony will follow. The drama is being watched by millions of TV viewers around the world. Then an abortive rescue attempt resulted in the murder of all nine Israeli wrestlers and the death of some of their captors. The youngest Israeli wrestler was a boy of 17... Mark Spitz left before the games ended. Before boarding his plane: "I feel disgusted. I'm leaving the Games, not because I am a Jew, but because I am still human..."
Text by Dimitri N. Marcopoulos
1972 Munich Olympics: Various WebPages
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