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Munich celebrates 50th anniversary of the Olympic Games

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Munich celebrates 50th anniversary of the Olympic Games

 The celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Olympic Games Munich 1972 are underway.

The highlights of the first day’s celebrations last week were a reception given by the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), and the unveiling of new Olympic rings in Munich’s Olympic Park.

Both events were attended by IOC President Thomas Bach. The lively park has continuously hosted events since the closing of the Games in 1972, attracting more than 220 million visitors from the region and around the world in the last 50 years. During his speech in front of hundreds of guests, amongst them more than a dozen German medalists from the Games 50 years ago Bach pondered those 1970s days of medals and memories.

He recalled that the Games, which took place from 26 August to 11 September 1972, were full of cheerfulness, openness and hospitality. The Games were inspired by IOC Member and then-NOC President Willi Daume, who chaired the Organising Committee, and the former Mayor of Munich, Hans-Jochen Vogel. They were meant to help Germany distinguish itself from its own past and show a new Germany after World War II.

IOC President Bach:

“Munich is a perfect example of how to organise sustainable Olympic Games. Down to every detail, the architecture and concept of the Games were inspired by openness and enjoyment of life,”

Architect Günter Behnisch tried to avoid any form of barriers in order to put the focus on the unifying power of the Olympic Games. The Olympic pictogram system of 1972, developed by Otl Aicher, still leads the way today.

The IOC President remembered the many golden moments of the two German teams at the time: from the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR). For the first time in Olympic history, Munich 1972 saw two completely separate German delegations.

Unfortunately, on 5 September 1972 hate and violence muted the spirit of the Games. A terror attack temporarily halted the event. Famously in the UK this saw BBC One left with little to screen, and a repeat of the pilot for sitcom Are You Being Served? was rescreened. The canned comedy, during a time of tragedy, was a hit on its rescreening and it went on to many years of success being commissioned on the back of this most unexpected screening. However the horrors of the attack on the Israeli team were not forgotten and were covered with sadness by BBC News, at the time, and today, it is still viewed as an attack on the whole Olympic community and its values, something the IOC President emphasised in his speech.

“The brutal attack on the Israeli team shocks us until today and fills us with disgust and shame. For many of us it is one of those moments in life from which we know exactly where we were when we received the news. This is why we remembered the victims from Israel and the German policeman during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with a minute of silence. Today we want to bow again in honour of the victims.”

Despite the cowardly attack, the NOC of Israel never turned its back on the Olympic Games, Bach continued,

“The Israeli athletes continued to participate in the Olympic Games and to embrace the uniting power of the Olympic Movement. We are very thankful to them. This is why the unveiled Olympic rings are also a symbol of the persistence of the Olympic values and the resistance of the Olympic Games. The Olympic rings show us that sport can play its part in making the world a better place, and that the Olympic values of solidarity and peace are greater than hatred and division.”

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