Olympic Games 1972 Munich

20th Olympiad


Sports: 23

Events: 193

National Teams: 121

Participants: 7,113

Torch and Torch Relay

  The torch relay 1972

On July 26, 1972 a twelve-man escort team met at Patras. There were two representatives of the OC, two engineers for technical matters and eight drivers. Their two automobiles were air-conditioned. Two trucks transported technical equipment:

- a refrigerator for the storage of the, gas cartridges,
- extra torches,
- two extra pilot lights (railroad signal lamps) which were fed from a 3.2 kilogram propane

gas bottle.  They could burn uninterruptedly for at least six weeks, were also dependable, safe and were to be lighted at Olympia. They excluded every risk of losing the Olympic fire.

Two days later at 12 noon, a group of Greek actresses lighted the Olympic fire according to custom and without spectators before the temple of Hera in the sacred grove of ancient Olympia. In solemn procession they carried the flame in a bowl through the arched entrance into the ancient stadium.

The president of the Greek OC welcomed approximately 6,000 guests there. Dr Hans Jochen Vogel spoke as representative and vice-president of the OC. The Olympic hymn was sung and Pindar's ode was recited. At 12:10 P. M., the first relay runner, nineteen-year-old Greek basketball player and medical student John Kirkilessis, lighted his torch.

more torchimages

After a ceremony the torch relay began to proceed through Turkey. Customs and passport control were quick and without complication. The Olympic flame remained in Istanbul for almost seventeen hours. The Turkish NOC supplied every vehicle with a Germanspeaking interpreter who accompanied them throughout the entire Turkish stretch. At a ceremony the Bulgarian NOC accepted the Olympic fire. Thousands of resort guests and tourists in the vacation spots along the Black Sea coast were able to witness the torch relay.

The ceremonial transfer of the Olympic fire to the Rumanian NOC took place on the main bridge across the Danube between Ruse and Giurgiu. The Olympic flame was solemnly greeted in the packed Bucharest Stadium. The handing over of the Olympic fire on the Rumanian-Yugoslav border near Moravita took place in a colorful ceremonial featuring folk dances. In Belgrade, the fire was welcomed and received in a small centrally located stadium.

On August 19 the torch relay reached the Yugoslav-Hungarian border near Horgas. There it was saluted by representatives of the Hungarian NOC in the usual manner. A helicopter accompanied the relay on the first stretch leading to Szeged and dropped flowers.

The president of Austria gave the Austrian Olympic team a fine send off at the Olympic fire reception in Vienna. The torch relay reached German territory for the first time in the afternoon of August 23 near Freilassing. It left the Federal Republic of Germany near Kiefersfelden to pass through Austria again. At Scharnitz the Olympic fire finally reached the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany.


General torch and torch relay information 1972
Description: The following is engraved: The emblem in the upper cover of the torch-dish and the Olympic Rings with text on the handle.
Material Steel
Fuel: Propane and butane
Torch measure: Lenght:  75 cm      Weight: 1.350 gr
Torches total: 5,917
Design by:  
Manufacturer: Friedrich Krupp AG
Date of the torch relay: 28. Juli - 26. August 1972
Duration: 30 days
Numbers of runners: about 6,000
Distance total: 5.532 km
Name of the last runner: Günther Zahn


After a short salute the relay headed for Munich through Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In Murnau four paralyzed athletes each carried the Olympic fire 250 meters in their wheelchairs. The Olympic fire reached Munich punctually.

The Königsplatz presented an excellent backdrop for the reception of the fire. It held about 20,000 spectators and was at the end of an impressive approach street. The short ceremony was introduced by music and gymnastics performances. Mexican and Canadian folklore were presented on a widely visible stage set up before the Propylaea. The presidents of the IOC and the OC, the lord mayor of Munich and the president of the Bavarian legislature saluted the Olympic fire. Afterwards two torch bearers carried the fire from the plaza. One of them brought the flame to the Maximilianeum, (the seat of the Bavarian legislature) where it was kept in a widely visible brazier until the opening day. The second torch bearer began the relay to Kiel. A relay consisting of twelve motorcyclists brought the torch to Nuremberg at top speed. A container of gas attached to each motorcycle extended the torches' burning time to almost forty minutes. Thus fewer relays were required. At Kassel an eight-man rowing team brought the flame across the Fulda. The Olympic fire reached the Kiel Rathausplatz punctually at 9 P. M. on August 27. Here it was greeted at a ceremony and preserved until the opening festivities.

On the following day, relay runners carried the fire to the opening of the Olympic yachting competitions at Kiel-Schilksee. At the ceremonial plaza of the Olympic Yachting Center, the flame ignited the fire in the brazier. Thousands of spectators were present and all the ships in the vicinity of Schilksee blew their horns and sirens in salute. Cyclists transferred the Olympic fire from Olympic Stadium in Munich to the Augsburg city line on August 27, 1972. It was received on the eve of the canoe slalom competition on the Rathausplatz. It was kept here overnight, and a half hour before the starting time, it was carried by runners to the course.

Torch runners diploma

  Time Planning

The precise timing of the routes was based on individual stretches and the time required to cover them. The OC offered the following guidelines:

approximately 1,000 meters in five minutes. In thinly inhabited areas they could run farther 
(about 1,500 meters to 2,000 meters), in mountainous areas shorter distances
(300 meters to 500 meters).

about 2,500 meters in ten minutes.

approximately 6,000 meters in fifteen minutes.

their times and stretches were to be determined by the NOCs themselves.
Interruptions influenced the timing of the relay:

They could compensate for timing variations and delays. The NOCs determined teir
location (especially large cities and border crossings), length (15 to 60 minutes) and character.
Night Rest:
Except for the stretches of Olympia-Athens, Freilassing-Munich, and Munich-Kiel the
torch relay would be interrupted every night between 8 P. M. and 7 A. M.

Between the middle of August and November, 1971, the OC computed a timetable based on these criteria which stipulated the arrival of the Olympic fire at Munich's Königsplatz on August 25, 1972 at 7 P. M. The border crossing times were now obligatory for the NOCs.

All this pertained to the Olympia-Munich stretch, but the torch had to be carried to Kiel and Augsburg also. The fire was to reach Munich on August 25, 1972 and only two days later it had to be at Kiel's Rathausplatz. All told 933 kilometers had to be covered in about forty-nine hours. The OC had to find the shortest and quickest route. Detours, such as through the German Democratic Republic as originally planned, or through towns not situated on the direct route had to be eliminated. Top speed was required from bicyclists, riders, rowers, and motorcyclists. Festivities were not allowed to slow down the relay and possible variations in timing had to be adjusted by motorcyclists. In addition, the relay had to proceed day and night. The German NOC delegated this task to local sport organizations in Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Hamburg and Schleswig- Holstein, through whose territory the relay would pass.

Olympic Torch Relay 1972 Olympia - Munich
In the space of time from 28.07. - 26.08.1972
Country Date Distance Runners Torches
Greece 28.07. - 06.08.1972 1,819 km    
Turkey 06.08. - 09.08.1972 507 km    
Bulgaria 09.08. - 13.08.1972 726 km    
Romania 13.08. - 17.08.1972 763 km    
Yugoslavia 17.08. - 19.08.1972 340 km    
Hungary 19.08. - 21.08.1972 379 km    
Austria 21.08. - 25.08.1972 541 km    
Germany (FRG) 25.08. - 26.08.1972 235 km    
Total   5,532 km ~ 6,000 5,917

   Material Aid

The OC wanted to supply material aid. Each participant received a torch. The secretary general's office developed the form of the torch which consisted of three parts:
- the torch handle (200 mm. long, 36 mm. diameter, 0.5 mm. to 0.8 mm. metal thickness);
- the torch plate (upper protective dish 210 mm. diameter, 0.5 mm. to 0.8 mm. metal thickness and conical   lower part) and
- the fire pipe (450 mm. long; 32 mm. in diameter, 0.5 to 0.8 mm. metal thickness).

The pieces were screwed together and were manufactured of rustless nickel chromium
steel. Their upper surfaces were buffed, matly polished and hard glazed to minimize fingerprints and stains. Etched into the glaze were:
- the Olympic rings with the text "München 1972 Spiele der XX. Olympiade" on the
- the Olympic emblem on the upper surface of the plate
- and the logo and name of donor on the cylinder plug.

Hermann Eberlein

The flame unit for the torch had to meet the following requirements:
- it had to be non-explosive and thus safe for the runner.
- burning under all circumstances (for example, if the runner should trip) and for every kind of weather,
- quickly and safely ignitable,
- able to burn long enough (at least ten minutes, that is, during two relay stretches),
- as bright as possible and visible from a distance without developing smoke that might molest the runner,
- easy to handle.
Pitch torches were out of the question because they produce soot and are not odorless. The OC chose liquid gas as fuel. The gas mixture was determined by simulating the worst weather conditions: Tests in a wind tunnel tested the flame's stability under extreme storm conditions. A hand spray simulated heavy rain.

(Source document:   Official Report 1972, Vol. 1, page 72 - 74)


Other Olympic Torches: