Games of the XX Olympiad
26 August - 11 September 1972
One Day in September
The 20th Olympic Games were allocated to Munich, Germany. Everybody expected great Games celebrating peace and ones at which organisational and technical perfection would be reached. For the first ten days, all did indeed go well. But on 5 September 1972, peace was shattered as eight Palestinian terrorists representing the militant group "Black September" broke into the Olympic Village, killed two members of the Israeli team and took nine more hostage - all this only 16km from Dachau. In an ensuing battle, all nine Israeli hostages were killed, as were five of the terrorists and one policeman. The Olympic Games were suspended and a memorial service was held in the main stadium. In defiance of the terrorists, the IOC ordered the competitions to resume after a 34-hour break, the IOC President Avery Brundage famously declaring, “The Games must go on!”
All other details about the Munich Games paled in significance.
The equestrian events were, obviously, also affected. After the first day of Dressage on 5 September, the second half of the competitors rode on 7 September; the ride-off followed on the 9th. Team Jumping, at that time still preceding the closing ceremony, took place on 11 September 1972.
From Munich-Riem to a Baroque Castle
The Munich organising committee had decided to transform an existing riding facility at Riem – not too far from Munich Airport – into the Olympic equestrian site. Munich-Riem, where Eventing and the individual Jumping competition were held, became indeed a jewel of an equestrian facility. A property of 450 hectares, Riem offered stabling for 400 horses and 160 double rooms for the grooms. There were 10 Jumping and six Dressage arenas plus two warm-up areas next to the stadium. Thus the decision by the organizing committee to move Dressage to an untested Baroque castle, Nymphenburg, was hotly disputed. But it was the right decision: the Dressage competitions at Nymphenburg were a huge success and the 8,000 seats available were not nearly enough.
Leased Horses for Mexico
Because of an outbreak of Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE), a deadly disease which can affect all equine species as well as humans, the Mexican riders were not allowed to take horses out of their country. In agreement with the IOC and the FEI, the Mexican Jumping and Eventing riders were allowed to lease horses in Germany. It was a difficult experience and all four Mexicans were eliminated on the cross-country.
Games Facts & Figures
- 121 nations
- 7,134 athletes (1,059 women; 6,075 men)
- 23 sports
- The officials took the Olympic Oath for the first time.