Olympics and History of the Modern Games Japan and Germany in 1972

About the olympics and the modern games, account of the games in Japan and Germany in 1972.

WINTER OLYMPICS, SAPPORO, JAPAN, 1972

These games made an antihero of Avery Brundage, IOC president, who arrived with a list of 40 alleged professionals among the skiers and single-handedly got the expulsion of Austria's Karl Schranz, the premier skier. The U.S.S.R. triumphed in ice hockey and matched East Germany with the most gold medals; the Germans dominated the luge, and had success in the biathlon and figure-skating. A Russian duo, reportedly not on speaking terms, won the pairs figure skating. Dutchman Ard Schenk was a sensation with 3 speed-skating victories, obliterating the 10,000-m. record.

A Swiss woman, 17-year-old Marie Terese Nadig, took the downhill over favored Austrian Anne Marie Proell, and beat her again in the giant slalom.

The Japanese, who had never won a gold medal in the Winter Olympics, had trained hard for the ski jump and were rewarded with a sweep of the 70-m. jump.

Dianne Holum and Anne Henning, both of Northbrook, Ill., split 4 medals in "speedo skato," as the Japanese called it.

MUNICH, GERMANY, 1972

Despite the great effort that went into these Olympics--the novel stadium architecture, a parklike setting, and construction of a subway system--death and tragedy befell the peaceful, plastic Munich Olympics. Eight Arab guerrillas (of the Black September Movement) invaded the Israeli athletes' dormitory and held hostages before TV cameras, while demanding release of 200 Arabs in Israeli jails. Israel refused and before the tragedy ended, 11 Israeli athletes, 5 Arabs, and a German policeman, were dead. Three terrorists were apprehended (later to be released to meet demands of terrorists who seized a plane). German security precautions and judgment were criticized. Many wanted to stop the games, but Avery Brundage insisted that they continue. Some Dutch and Norwegian athletes went home.

Up to that point, the Munich games had been a success. Kip Keino, Kenya, won the steeplechase, just a warm-up for his repeat 1,500-m. victory. Finn Lasse Viren fell down in the 10,000-m., but got up to win the event.

U.S. athletes generally fared poorly, with the great exception of Mark Spitz, who exceeded his prophecy of 4 years earlier. Spitz won 7 gold medals in swimming-a feat which seemed impossible. Immediately, according to certain critical reporters, Spitz began to auction himself off for post-Olympic jobs.

Rick De Mont was stripped of a gold medal for swimming under the influence of a stimulant, although he had reported his use of the drug for an asthma condition and no one had told him this was not permitted.

Black Americans Vince Matthews and Wayne Collete were accused of an undignified performance on the victory stand after the 400-m. run: talking, jiving, and looking away from the U.S. flag. The IOC immediately banned them from future Olympics, over protests by the U.S. Committee and some athletes. "If I looked cynical or disgusted," said Matthews, "it was partly because of what I had to go through to get here."

Olga Connolly, who had become a U.S. citizen by marriage, was chosen to carry the U.S. flag in the opening ceremony, but did not dip the flag when passing in front of foreign heads of state. She took her moment to argue for world peace, unity, and love; she was politely but firmly told this was not the time or place. After the Israeli deaths, she was not permitted to hold meetings in the Village. She threw the discus badly: "Something had to give, and the athlete in me died."

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