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The Munich Olympic Stadium: A glittering slice of history

All you need to know about Germany's Munich Olympic Stadium, or the Olympiastadion, which has played host to a number of historical events.

Feature 15 May 2014, 21:37 IST
 Munich Olympic Stadium

The Munich Olympic Stadium

The Munich Olympic Stadium or Olympiastadion, was built for the 1972 Summer Olympics to be held at the Bavarian capital in Germany. The Munich Olympic Stadium is located right at the middle of Olympiapark at Munich, and was the main host venue for the 1972 Summer Olympics.

The stadium used to seat 80,000 people when it was first built, but now the capacity has been reduced to about 69,000 seats. Celebrated German architect Günter Behnisch, who is perhaps most famous for building the West German parliament at Bonn, designed the stadium with help from another celebrated architect and structural engineer, Frei Paul Otto.

The design of the stadium was widely praised at the time of its unveiling and was considered ground-breaking. Steel cables were used to support extensive awnings of acrylic glass that were placed in such a way as to mimic the Alps. The glass canopies – transparent and overreaching – were symbolic of a new, democratic and hope-filled Germany; it was a physical representation of the motto of the Munich Olympics – Die Heiteren Spiele, or The Happy Games!

More symbolism came with the fact that the stadium was built in a depression caused by World War II bombings; the stadium rose like a phoenix from the ashes of war and misery. It embodied hope, optimism and happiness.

Once the Olympics were over the Munich Olympic Stadium became the home ground of Bayern Munich, and from the 1990s the stadium was shared by both Bayern and their city rivals 1860 Munich. Both these clubs have moved out of the Olympiastadion since 2005 and have moved into the Allianz Arena.

The Olympiastadion has been part of history not just as the main venue for the 1972 Olympics but in many other capacities; it was witness to Germany (then West Germany) winning its second FIFA World Cup when they defeated The Netherlands playing their famous Clockwork Orange style of football in the 1974 World Cup. The Olympiastadion was also the venue where Nottingham Forest won the European Cup in 1979, the first of their two consecutive European Cups, and where Borussia Dortmund won the UEFA Champions League in 1997.

The Munich Olympic Stadium has been hosting the Air and Style snowboard event since 2005, and it made history again in 2006 when it became the first facility to host the Tour de Ski cross-country skiing competition. The 2007 European Cup, Athletics was held at this venue while it has also played host to the UEFA Women’s Champions League final as well as some matches of the Euro 1988.

Other than sport, the stadium has been host to many concerts and music events, including those by Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, U2, Madonna, Simon and Garfunkel, Tina Turner, Metallica, Elton John, Coldplay, Sting and many others. The Munich Olympic Stadium has also been the location for film and music video shootings; parts of Rollerball (1975 film) and the Guns N’ Roses ‘Estranged’ video were filmed here.

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