The 2021 Olympics are underway, and given the pandemic and politics, this year’s games are one of several Olympic Games that are quite memorable. Here is the list of the other significant games:
- The 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany: held amidst the propaganda of the Nazi regime as part of Adolf Hitler’s attempt to demonstrate German superiority (and hence the myth of Aryan supremacy), African-American track star Jesse Owens emerges triumphant by winning four gold medals.
- The 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico: after winning gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter race, African-American track stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos both raised their fists in the air while the Star-Spangled Banner was being played to demonstrate their solidarity with the Black Power movement. They also wore black clothing as part of their protest. The International Olympic Committee responded by suspending both of them.
- The 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany: eight members of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September snuck into the Olympic village and took eleven Israeli athletes hostage, and in the process killed two of them who had resisted. A subsequent raid by the West German authorities in an attempt to rescue the hostages resulted in the deaths of the remaining Israeli athletes, a West German policeman, and five of the terrorists. The remaining three terrorists were transported to Libya after a Lufthansa jet was hijacked. The Mossad later tracked down and killed two of them, while the other terrorist, Jamal Al-Gashey, is still at large. Meanwhile, the United States men’s basketball game had an apparent victory over the Soviet Union in the gold medal game, but a clock controversy resulted in the Soviets winning the game. Renato William Jones, secretary-general of FIBA (an international basketball organization) and communist sympathizer had a role in the controversy by coming out of the stands and demanding that time be put back on the clock. The officials complied with his demand, despite the fact that he had no authority over them. The Americans eventually declined the silver medals. Thus, the 1972 Summer Olympics was a tragedy for the Israelis and a travesty for the Americans.
- The 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, Russia: due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Carter Administration imposed a boycott of the games, although it had no legal authority to do so. The Carter Administration even threatened to revoke the passports of any American athlete who tried to travel to Moscow for the games, since some American athletes opposed the boycott.
- The 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California: in retaliation for the boycott in 1980, the Soviet Union and several other communist nations decided to boycott the games.
- The 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain: year of the Dream Team, in which the men’s basketball team was comprised of various NBA stars, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird. The Dream Team dominated all of their opponents, winning by an average of 44 points on its way to a gold medal.
- The 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia: a bomb exploded in the Olympic Park, killing one person, resulting in another individual having a fatal attack, and wounded over a hundred people. Eric Rudolph, a right-wing extremist, was eventually identified as the perpetrator. He was arrested in 2003, and in 2005 plead guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.
Hopefully, the games in Tokyo will be free of incidents and politics.