From anti-gay comments and legislation to claims of corruption, the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, has been plagued by controversy. In that light, we decided to put together a list of scandals from past Olympics to remind us all that the international event isn't always a bed of roses.
The 1916 Summer Olympics were canceled in Berlin in the then-German Empire due to the outbreak of
World War I.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) selected Berlin as the location of the 1936 Summer Olympics in 1931. However, in 1933 Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany and the plans for the games became ensnared with the agenda of Nazi Germany as Hitler intended to use the games for propaganda purposes.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two black American sprinters, performed the black power salute while the anthem of the United States played during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. At the time, a spokesman for the IOC said that it was “a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit.”
The Munich Massacre occurred during the 1972 Summer Olympics held in Munich, Germany, when 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually murdered by a Palestinian terrorist group named Black September.
In response, Israel launched Operation Wrath of God, a covert operation conducted by Israel’s Mossad to track down and assassinate individuals involved in the murders.
After the Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid, N.Y., controversy buzzed due to plans to convert the Olympic dormitories into a state prison afterward. Legal history was made when the National Moratorium on Prison Construction won a court ruling allowing its use of the Olympic symbol on a poster.
President Jimmy Carter boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow along with 64 other nations due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The Soviet Union, along with 14 allies, boycotted the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, saying there was not sufficient security for their athletes. However, the boycott was regarded as a counterpunch to the U.S.-led boycott of the games just four years earlier.
Russian weightlifter Ibragim Samadov was disqualified for protest after he refused to accept the bronze medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. He was forced by the IOC to leave the Olympic Village and banned for life from the sport.
U.S. figure skater Tonya Harding was implicated in the attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan. Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, arranged the attack to break Kerrigan’s leg so that she could not compete in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway. Harding was banned for life from both competing and coaching.
The Centennial Olympic Park terrorist bombing occurred at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. It killed one person and injured 111 others. The bombing was planned and carried out by terrorist Eric Robert Rudolph, responsible for a series of anti-abortion and anti-gay bombings across the Southern United States between 1996 and 1998.
United States sprinter Marion Jones won five medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, 4x100 meters relay and 4x400 meters relay in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. But in 2007, Jones admitted to have taken performance-enhancing drugs. She was stripped of all her medals, along with her relay teammates. Her teammates were later given back their medals for having nothing to do with Jones’ cheating.
The 2002 Olympic bid scandal involved allegations of bribery to be awarded the right to host the games in Salt Lake City. Members of the IOC were accused of taking bribes from the Salt Lake Organizing Committee during the bidding process and, in its aftermath, several IOC members were expelled and new rules ratified.
Arash Miresmaeili, an Iranian judoist, was disqualified from the 2004 Summer Olympics judo tournament in Athens, Greece, because he was found to be overweight prior to a match with an Israeli. He had gone on an eating binge the night previous in protest of the IOC’s recognition of the state of Israel.
Miresmaeili’s decision was heralded by the Iranian government.
Players from the Spanish men and women’s basketball teams posed for a picture that was considered disparaging toward the Asian ethnicity. For the picture, they pulled back the skin on either side of their eyes to narrow them.
In 2008, the country of Georgia called for a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Olympics due to Russia’s involvement in the South Ossetia war. Sochi is within 20 miles of a disputed territory claimed by Georgia.
Russia continues to face a myriad of challenges and opposition to this year’s games.