Munich 1972 Summer Olympic Games

All the sports achievements of the 20th Olympics were overshadowed by the bloody Palestinian terrorist attack on the Israeli team in the Olympic village.


Time and Place: Munich (West Germany); 26 August – 11 September 1972
Other candidates: Detroit, Madrid and Montreal
Participation: 121 countries, 7134 athletes
Number of sports: 23 sports, 195 events
Number of Slovenian athletes: 24
Fire lit by: Günter Zahn (track and field athlete)
Games opened by: Gustave Heinemann (President of the Federal Republic of Germany)
Olympic oath: Heidi Schüller (track and field)


Trivia from the Munich 1972 Summer Olympic Games

Mark Spitz, Sawao Kato, Shane Gould, Olga Korbut and other athletes were the champions whose glory was, in the eyes of many, overshadowed by the bloody events in the Olympic village. After a week of uninterrupted Olympic events, Palestinian terrorists broke into the Olympic village and turned Israeli athletes into helpless hostages. They demanded the release of 200 Arabs imprisoned in Israel. After prolonged negotiations a firefight and explosions broke out. 5. On 5 September, the standoff ended in the deaths of eleven Israeli athletes, five terrorists and a police officer. The President of the IOC, Avery Brundage ended the debate on a possible suspension of the Olympics with the words: "The Games must continue." Events continued a day after the memorial services, national and the Olympic flags were lowered to half mast and all accompanying events were canceled.


Olympic heights


The most medals were won by athletes from the Soviet Union, followed by the Americans and both Germanies. Without a shadow of a doubt, the games belonged to one athlete - the unbeatable American swimmer Mark Spitz who set new standards of quality with his seven gold medals. The most notable among the women was 17-year old Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut. The diminutive 154 cm tall Belorussian, weighing only 39 kg, won in the floor exercise and on the beam, won the team event and won silver on the uneven bars.


German architects created fantastic facilities which thrilled athletes and visitors alike. The central facility was the Olympic park with the stadium which continues to be the centre of attention to this day. It also served as the home ground of FC Bayern, the pride of Bavaria, which eventually moved to the Allianz Arena in 2005.


Munich is currently again competing for a shot at the Olympics, but this time for the winter version. Bavarians were a candidate for the 2018 Winter Olympics, but PyeongChang won the spot.


Slovenians and the 1972 Summer Olympics

24 Slovenian athletes competed at the "black" Olympics in the capital of Bavaria. After two golds of Miro Cerar, athletes from the sunny side of the Alps returned home without medals. Javelin thrower Nataša Urbančič from Celje got closest to a medal after improving her sixth place result from Mexico 1968 and finishing in fifth.

 Fifth place was also won by the Yugoslavian basketball team, a member of which was also Istrian Vinko Jelovac. The basketball player went on to coach the Olimpija team from Ljubljana and due to his study, work and life in Ljubljana most sports sources called him a Slovenian.

Janez Andrejašič and Peter Guzelj won an excellent sixth place in the double whitewater canoe.
Munich continued the trend of an expanding Slovenian presence in many sports. Jože Urankar achieved an excellent result in the light heavyweight category of Olympic weightlifting.

We should also mention Miro Kocuvan, who ran in the 4x400 meter relay. Twenty four years later, his son Miro Jr. competed for Slovenia in the Atlanta Olympics.