Some Olympiads are born controversial, some achieve controversy, and some have controversy thrust upon them. Though few editions of the modern Olympic Games have been as bitterly contested as the Beijing summer Games that open in August, these are scarcely the only ones to have sparked dispute. Indeed, those disputes – not sporting achievements – are often what make Olympic Games memorable.
“People will remember a really great athletic moment,” says historian David Wallechinsky. “But, in general, it is the controversies that stick out.” A case in point: Sports fans still remember Bob Beamon’s massive long jump in Mexico City in 1968, setting an Olympic record that has yet to be beaten. The rest remember the Mexico Olympics for the Black Power salute that US athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave from the podium.