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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Kay Schiller

Schiller, Kay & Christopher Young (2013). Munich '72: Selling the Games to Foreign Audiences and at Home. Sport in History 33(3): 373-392.

Author(s) from Durham


After the terrorist attack on the Israeli team, the 1972 Munich Olympics could be considered a PR disaster for the Federal Republic of Germany. In the years before the Games, however, the organizers orchestrated a finely tuned campaign, which used limited resources to maximum effect. The major message was obvious: the Germany of 1972 was to be portrayed as utterly different from that of 1936 and indeed the whole of the Nazi dictatorship. But the fiscal means were tight and the methods had to draw largely on pre-existing research and be tailored to the expectations of key audiences in various parts of the world. This paper examines the portfolio of PR options open to the 1972 organizers, in theory and in practice – from the uncomfortable relationship with the hosts of the directly preceding Games in Mexico City, to freshly decolonized nations in Africa, the Eastern bloc in the age of détente, as well as suspicious allies in the West and discontented publics at home. It serves as a barometer of German popularity, or lack of it, in the late 1960s, and demonstrates the myriad ways in which sport and sporting mega events can be used to bolster national image.


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