25 Worst Moments And Controversies In Olympic History
Whether it is the summer or the winter Olympics, this unique sporting event is always supposed to be full of great joy. It is that special t...
Whether it is the summer or the winter Olympics, this unique sporting event is always supposed to be full of great joy. It is that special time when the best athletes from literally all over the world come together to compete on behalf of their countries and nations. At the Olympics, both the athletes and their supporters put aside all of their differences and problems as they are all united by the powerful phenomena known as sport and national pride. The world’s greatest athletes competing against each other as hard as they can but with the utmost respect and under the rule of fair play, crowds of their fans cheering and enjoying their stunning performances at the stadiums, billions of people watching it proudly on TV in different countries all over the globe – this is what the Olympics should be about. However, the Olympic Games are not always just about joy, happiness, pride, and jubilation. Throughout its long history, the Olympics have also witnessed a number of bad moments, tragedies, cheating, unsportsmanlike behaviors, serious injuries, and even deaths. We explored Olympic history to compile a list with some of the worst moments that have ever happened at this major sporting event. From corruption scandals and attacks on referees to the infamous Munich Massacre, here are 25 Worst Moments And Controversies In Olympic History.
Featured image: en.wikipedia.org
Death of Francisco Lazaro
Francisco Lazaro was the first Portuguese Olympic marathon runner and standard bearer of the Portuguese legation in the nation’s first ever Olympic Games, the 1912 Summer Olympics, in Stockholm. Unfortunately, Lazaro also became the first athlete to die during an Olympic event, after collapsing at the 30-km mark of the marathon.
Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympics
Adolf Hitler attended the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, and he was very happy to see “his” German athletes winning. However, his joy turned to disgust after the Afro-American sprinter Jesse Owens won the gold medal at the 100-m dash. Upon that, Hitler furiously left the stadium, without shaking Owens´ hand.
First doping scandal
It was at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome where the first doping scandal was revealed. Knud Enemark Jensen, a Danish cyclist, collapsed during a race and died the same day because of a fractured skull. Later, autopsy revealed that the athlete’s body contained illegal stimulants such as amphetamine and roniacol.
Doves burnt alive
At the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, live doves were released during the opening ceremony as a symbol of world peace, but many of them were burned alive by the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. As a result of protests following the incident, the last time live doves were released at the opening ceremony was in 1992 in Barcelona, hours before the flame was lit.
Death of Nicolas Bochatay
Nicolas Bochatay was a Swiss speed skier who died during the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville. Bochatay was killed when he collided with a snow grooming vehicle on the morning of the speed skiing finals. Speed skiing was a demonstration sport at the 1992 Olympics, but it was removed from the program after this tragedy.
IOC punishing black power salutes
At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, African-American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos used the black power salute to show their support for human rights during their medal ceremony after having won gold and bronze medals respectively. While this act was widely perceived as noble and heroic by public, the International Olympic Committee decided to punish the athletes by stripping them of their team member status.
Angel Matos attacking referee
Angel Matos was a great Cuban TaeKwonDo athlete who received a gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Unfortunately, Matos and his coach were banned for life following an incident at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing where Matos kicked the Swedish referee Chakir Chelbat in the face after being disqualified in the bronze medal match.
Olympics canceled due to wars
Both the 1940 and the 1944 Summer Olympics were canceled due to wars. The 1940 Summer Olympics were scheduled to be held in Tokyo but were cancelled due to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The next Olympics were supposed to be hosted by Helsinki, but the event was not held due to the Winter War. Ultimately, the Games were suspended indefinitely following the outbreak of the World War II and did not resume until the London Games of 1948.
Boycotts of the Olympics
There have been numerous boycotts throughout the history of the Olympics. To name only a few, the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles were boycotted by the Soviet Union and 14 of its allies; the United States and 65 other countries boycotted the previous Moscow Olympics; North Korea boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, etc.
Karl Schranz's cheating
At the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, Austrian slalom skier Karl Schranz claimed a mysterious man in black crossed his path during the slalom race (that was held in poor visibility), causing him to stop. He was given a restart, posted the faster time and awarded with a gold medal. Nevertheless, when the jury reviewed the television footage later, they found out that Schranz had just missed a gate on the upper part of the first run. His repeat run time was annulled and his medal stripped.
2002 Winter Olympic bid scandal
The 2002 Winter Olympics bid scandal involved allegations of bribery used to win the rights to host the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. In 1998, members of the IOC were accused of taking bribes from the Salt Lake Organizing Committee during the bidding process. The allegations resulted in the expulsion of several IOC members and the adoption of new IOC rules.
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Tonya Harding's attack on Nancy Kerrigan
In January 1994, Tonya Harding, former American figure skating champion, hired a man to break her biggest rival Nancy Kerrigan’s leg so that Kerrigan would be unable to compete at the 1994 Winter Olympics. Kerrigan’s leg was severely bruised during the attack, but it did not break. Luckily, she made a full recovery by the Olympics where she won the silver medal. Harding later pleaded guilty to the attack. She was banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association, received 3 years probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $160,000 fine.
1972 Olympic men's basketball final
One of the most controversial events in Olympic history, the men’s basketball final at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich was marked by a series of questionable verdicts and mistakes by the referees that eventually led to a 51-50 Soviet victory over the US. Infuriated by the actions of the officials, the US team refused to accept the silver medals.
Ten days before the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City began, the Mexican government violently suppressed protests against the authoritarian regime that were organized by local students who tried to take advantage of the massive media attention. In the incident now know as the Tlatelolco Massacre, up to 300 students and civilians were killed.
Hope Solo´s comments
A renowned American soccer goalkeeper, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a World Cup gold medalist, Hope Solo generated controversy after making disrespectful comments, saying that the Swedish Soccer Team were ‘bunch of cowards’. This was after the US team lost to them in a play-off game at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Wladyslaw Kozakiewicz, a Polish pole vaulter, won the gold medal at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. However, he is more famous for his coarse gesture he showed towards the Soviet crowds who tried to distract him and hinder his performance by booing and hissing him during his attempts. In retaliation, Kozakiewicz gave the crowd “the elbow gesture” to demonstrate his disdain for the fans.
Nodar Kumaritashvili's death
Nodar Kumaritashvili was a Georgian luger who suffered a fatal crash during a training run for the 2010 Winter Olympics competition in Whistler, Canada, on the day of the opening ceremony. Kumaritashvili lost control in the penultimate turn of the course and was thrown off his luge and over the sidewall of the track, striking an unprotected steel support pole at the speed of 143.6 km/h (89.2 mph).
Badminton players intentionally losing games
Usually, there are no controversies associated with badminton, but at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, four women’s doubles teams, two from South Korea, one from China, and one from Indonesia, were disqualified for intentionally losing their matches. Supposedly, the eight players thought a loss would mean they would be able to play a weaker team in the next round.
Greg Louganis´ injury
American diver and four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis suffered a concussion after he struck his head on the springboard during the preliminary rounds at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. He completed the preliminaries despite his injury, but at that time, nobody knew that the diver had been diagnosed HIV-positive six months prior to the games. Theoretically, his blood in the pool could have infected other competitors had they also had open wounds.
Death of Nicolae Berechet
Nicolae Berechet was a Romanian boxer who competed at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. On August 11, 1936, he was eliminated in the first round of the featherweight, losing his fight to Evald Seeberg. Berechet died mysteriously of blood poisoning a few days later after the match, but it is believed that the damage he suffered in the fight might have also been a factor in his death.
Samir Ait Said's injury
There have been hundreds of painful injuries at the Olympics. However, the terrifying leg break that the French gymnast Samir Ait Said suffered at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is definitely one of the most stomach-churning injuries that has ever happened at the games. After a botched landing during the qualification rounds, the Frenchman’s leg dangled at horrible angle.
Death of Stefan Henze
The latest Olympic death was German Olympic coach and canoe silver medalist Stefan Henze. He died on August 15, 2016 after his taxi was hit in a high-speed head-on collision in Rio de Janeiro. The 35-year-old coach was travelling back to the athletes’ village in a taxi with a sports scientist of the German canoe team when they hit a concrete barrier on the road.
The worst and deadliest tragedy that has ever happened at the main Olympic event, the Munich Massacre was a terrorist attack during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Eleven Israeli Olympic team members and a German police officer were taken hostage and eventually killed by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September. In the wake of the tragic event, the competition was eventually suspended for the first time in modern Olympic history.
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