On July 23, the next Olympics started in Tokyo. This year, the competition is being held in front of empty stands due to the coronavirus. Athletes have to follow numerous rules to avoid contracting COVID-19. In a word, the atmosphere of the sports festival has been spoiled.
However, this year is far from the saddest in the modern history of the Olympic Games. Sometimes at the competitions there were such tragic and shocking events that it is difficult to believe in them. StarHit decided to collect the most resonant of them.
The terrorist attack in Munich in 1972
This is perhaps the most famous and terrible tragedy that happened at the Olympic Games. On the night of September 5, 1972, a group of terrorists from Palestine made their way into the village where the athletes lived and took a delegation from Israel hostage.
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Negotiations with the criminals lasted for many hours. All this time, the athletes who were at gunpoint came up with their own escape plan. However, the collective efforts never came to fruition: 11 members of the Israeli national team were killed. The attack also claimed the life of a West German policeman.
What happened changed the Olympic Games forever. Since then, the control over the villages where the athletes live has been strengthened, and the competition venues have been carefully guarded. But even these measures could not guarantee complete safety for athletes and spectators.
1996 Atlanta Explosion
A much more massive tragedy almost happened in the United States in 1996. Then a criminal named Eric Robert Rudolph planted an explosive device in the Olympic Park, where at the time of the explosion there were hundreds of people. They were all sports fans who followed the competition. But Rudolph’s plan did not work: as a result of his actions, only two unfortunate people died, but 111 people were injured. But why did the terrorist’s plan fail?
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It’s all about the heroic actions of the guard Richard Jewell. The man found a backpack with suspicious items in the park and literally forced the police to check it. When the information about the bomb was confirmed, Jewell, along with law enforcement officers, evacuated people to a safe distance. It’s scary to imagine what would have happened if Richard had not been vigilant! Then the victims would surely be in the hundreds.
But the award did not immediately find the hero. After the terrorist attack, rumors appeared that the culprit of the tragedy was Jewell himself, who planted the bomb, and then decided to pose as a savior. The guard faced harassment in the media and even went through a series of interrogations. In the end, Richard was acquitted. But the real criminal was caught only many years later.
The 1996 Olympics were recognized as one of the most disastrous in the history of the competition. It is significant that the IOC President for the first time did not say his catchphrase at the closing ceremony: “These Games were the best in history.”
Of course, doping scandals happened a lot. Every now and then some athletes were convicted of using illegal drugs. They had one goal – to achieve maximum sports results with the help of certain stimulants.
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But, of course, the main doping scandal in the history of the Olympics and all world sports occurred in 2014. Then a film by Hayo Zeppelt about doping in Russian athletics came out on the screens. The picture had disastrous consequences for the entire country. Investigations began first in artistic gymnastics, and then in other disciplines. Medals were taken away from domestic athletes en masse.
All this led to the fact that at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, Russia was deprived of its flag and anthem. Athletes performed under the Olympic banner. Of course, this was a big blow to the reputation of the state. At the current Games in Tokyo, the situation repeated itself.
Sanctions against Russian sports will have to endure for a very long time. But the worst thing is that everything that happens has undermined the credibility of honest athletes who do not take illegal drugs to achieve their goals.
The action of Greg Luganis
This is perhaps the most unusual story on our list. Back in 1988, diver Greg Luganis competed at the Seoul Olympics. Then the American was already a recognized master of sports and the main hope of his national team. Perhaps Luganis would have remained an unambiguous idol for fans, but an emergency happened at the very Olympics in Seoul.
While performing the jump, Greg hit his head on the board, resulting in a serious head injury. Luganis fell into the pool, after which he received urgent medical attention. The American team’s doctor hastily patched up the wound, and Luganis was still able to finish the performance.
For many years this story was forgotten by fans, but in 1995 Greg’s memoir Breaking the Surface was released, in which he said that six months before the Olympics, he was diagnosed with HIV. And this disease, as you all know, is transmitted through blood! Of course, journalists and fans immediately attacked Luganis, because the athlete did not warn either the doctor who provided him with medical assistance or the athletes who dived into the water after his fall about his problem. The athlete himself, in his autobiography, explained his inaction by elementary fear.
“I was shocked! At that moment, thoughts like “What responsibility do I bear? Do I have to talk about it? After all, it was the most intimate secret, ”Luganis shared.
It later emerged that neither the doctor nor the athletes who competed on that ill-fated day had contracted HIV. However, Luganis’s reputation was damaged anyway.
Injuries to athletes
Injuries are an inevitable part of an athlete’s life, but sometimes the injuries that Olympic participants receive are too serious. So, in 2016, gymnast Samir Ait Said broke his leg during one of the jumps. The athlete had to recover for a long time and return to normal life.
Dutch cyclist Annemik van Vleiten was injured while walking a difficult distance. The athlete did not fit into the turn and crashed into the curb. Then she was diagnosed with a fracture of three vertebrae. It was rumored that Annemik would no longer be able to get on her feet, but in the end she fully recovered and returned to the national team.
And, of course, it is impossible to forget about the tragedy that happened to freestyle star Maria Komissarova. On February 15, 2014, during training, the athlete received a serious spinal injury. The very next day she was taken to Munich, where a complex operation was carried out. As a result of that tragedy, Komissarova lost the ability to walk.
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Maria is now a popular blogger. The trauma did not prevent her from creating a happy family: together with her husband Komissarov, she is raising two children. On social networks, the woman has repeatedly admitted that she does not lose hope and dreams of getting back on her feet someday.
Deaths at the Olympics
Yes, it happens. Of course, earlier tragedies at the Olympics happened more often. So, in 1912, runner Francisco Lazaro died right on the track. The man died of dehydration. As it turned out later, before the start, he covered his body with a kind of wax, which clogged the pores, limiting perspiration.
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The death of Knud Enemark Jensen changed the Olympic Games forever. The tragedy with the cyclist happened in 1960. Then he fell on the track due to heatstroke and received a head injury. Doctors could not save the athlete.
It was later revealed that traces of strong medicines were found in Knud’s blood. The coach of the Danish national team admitted that he gave his wards a drug that increased their level of concentration and positively influenced the results of the performances. Of course, a scandal broke out. It was after this death that the organizers of the Games began to discuss the introduction of doping control, which began to operate at all competitions already in 1968.
And of course, the memory of many sports fans is reminded of the tragedy that happened to the Georgian athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili. The accident happened during training runs before the 2010 Olympics. The sledge driver did not fit into a difficult turn, after which he flew off the track and hit a concrete column. Despite the efforts of doctors, Nodar passed away an hour after the accident.
As you can see, even in the history of the world’s main sports event, there are many sad episodes. You need to know and remember about them, because sometimes athletes put their health and their lives on the altar of victory.
Фото: Getty Images, Legion-Media