- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 2 Nov 1972, p. 71-87
- Worrall, James, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The Olympic Games at Munich, 1972. Major political objectives. Contrast with the 1936 "Nazi Olympics." Costs. Security problems. The performance of the Canadian team. Selection, approach, and size of the Canadian team. COA guidelines. Canada's place in sport. Ways to improve Canada's international standing. Anecdotes and examples. Plans for the Olympic Games to be held in Montreal in 1976. The possibilities for success.
- Date of Original
- 2 Nov 1972
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
- NOVEMBER 2, 1972
Message of Munich
AN ADDRESS BY James Worrall, Q.C., B.SC., MEMBER, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
CHAIRMAN The President, Joseph H. Potts
In Greek mythology the gods were supposed to dwell upon a mountain called Olympus; Olympian implies something that is godlike.
Although I may not have accorded Olympic athletes the reverence appropriate for a deity, athletes, Olympic or not, have always filled me with awe.
Moreover, they have given me an inferiority complexattributable no doubt to the fact that I was never blessed with athletic prowess.
It took me some time to recognize my limitations in this regard.
Originally I proceeded on the basis that determination, regular training and hard work were the key to athletic success.
However, as I grew older, I discovered that a natural aptitude was also an essential ingredient.
In public school, when I was in Grade 8, I tried out for various teams only to find that boys from Grades 6 and 7 were selected ahead of me.
But my rude awakening occurred in high school.
I decided to go out for the track team-so I got up early every morning for a couple of weeks and I practised faithfully.
I earned money so that I could purchase the appropriate track shoes.
On the day of the meet I was ready to take on all comers-in my age group-for the one mile race.
There I was in tip-top shape in my shorts, my T-shirt and track shoes-the very picture of an athlete.
Then came-my nemesis- a friend of the same age, named Tommy MacMillan, his name is indelibly inscribed in my memory, a veritable pygmy in comparison to myself, wearing heavy boots, long pants, a sweater and a jacket who, to my certain knowledge, had not practised for five minutes, decided at the last minute to enter the race.
I hardly need to tell you the outcome-MacMillan led the pack all the way and won easily with apparently no effort.
In any event I concluded that I should concentrate on other endeavours.
On the other hand, MacMillan never went on to the Olympics because natural aptitude is not sufficient in itself.
This is a self-evident truth, but fortunately there are those amongst us who are endeavouring to take practical steps to ensure that all essential ingredients are indeed present.
A significant endeavour in this direction is the recently announced "Game Plan '76" which has the aim of putting Canadian athletes in the top 10 nations in point standing at the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976.
The Chairman of the Steering Committee of Game Plan '76 is with us: Mr. Szabo, who was introduced to you previously.
This is also one of the major responsibilities of our guest speaker, as the only Canadian member of the International Olympic Committee.
Sir, it is my great pleasure and privilege, on behalf of every member and guest, to welcome you to The Empire Club of Canada.
Mr. Worrall was never plagued with what I refer to as my "MacMillan Syndrome".
As an athlete, he represented Canada at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, 1934, in London, England, and at the Olympic Games in 1936, in Berlin, Germany, and in numerous other national and international sports events.
He specialized in the hurdles and tells me he has been leaping barriers all throughout his life.
Following retirement as a Flight Lieutenant from the Royal Canadian Air Force, he re-established the Ontario Track and Field Branch of the then Amateur Athletic Union of Canada, the Canadian Legion Track and Field Coaching School and other amateur sports organizations. He served for several years as Vice-President and then as President of the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada.
He was President of the Ontario Fencing Federation and the first President of the Canadian Sports Advisory Council (now Canadian Amateur Sports Federation), appointed a Director of the Canadian Olympic Association in 1947, and served as Vice-President and President for many years until his retirement as President in 1968.
During those years he attended all the Olympic Games in England, Finland, Australia, Italy, Japan and Mexico, either as an Assistant Chef de Mission, Chef de Mission or as President of the Canadian Olympic Association.
In addition, he has attended several international sports conferences in different countries representing Canada. He was appointed the Canadian member to the International Olympic Committee in Teheran in 1967.
In that capacity he has attended all subsequent meetings of the Committee in Grenoble, Mexico, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, and more recently, Sapporo.
During 1960 and 1961, he served as a member of the Physical Fitness Study Committee appointed by Premier Frost.
In 1961, he was appointed a member of the National Advisory Council on Fitness and Amateur Sports and served two years as Chairman, retiring in 1966. He is presently a member of the Montreal Organizing Committee for the 1976 Olympics.
But Mr. Worrall's claims to fame are by no means limited to his athletic endeavours.
He is one of Her Majesty's Counsel Learned in the Law in active practice here in Toronto, having served as Counsel on two Federal Royal Commissions.
He was formerly Physics Master at Upper Canada College following graduation from McGill University as a Bachelor of Science.
He is the Honorary Consul of Finland in Toronto and Vice-Chairman of the Metropolitan Toronto Licensing Commission.
I am delighted to be able to present to you Mr. James Worrall, who will address us on the subject 'MESSAGE OF MUNICH'.
MR. JAMES WORRALL:
Thank you President Joe Potts, Joe and I are old friends and now I know where he gets that sometime nickname Jock Potts.
I suppose speaking about the Munich Games is a bit of an anticlimax after the rather exciting and dramatic experiences to which this country has been subjected since our return from Munich and, of course, I first refer to the cliffhanger that took place between Canada and Russia in the hockey series and later the more immediate cliffhanger, not yet resolved, of a Federal election. But I will try and point my remarks to the fact that the Olympic movement in the world, the Olympic situation in Canada, is not by any means a cliffhanger situation. It's, a matter of fact, a condition that is continuing and will continue because the games have gone on for a long time ever since they were reinstated or started as a modern olympics by Pierre de Coubertin back in 1896. And I am very pleased that Joe at least didn't say that I went back quite that far, although I recently attended the birthday party for a very eminent gentleman who went back at least to 1912 and I refer, of course, to the much maligned Avery Brundage, now retired President of the International Olympic Committee. Without going into detail on that subject- all I can say is hopefully (a) I survive that long and (b) if I do, that I have the man's energy. I have sometimes been referred to as Canada's Avery Brundage. There are two essential differences namely about almost thirty years in age and several million dollars in the bank.
I was a little surprised, incidentally, also to hear Joe refer to his inferiority complex. This is something I have never associated with Joe Potts but I can see the origin now of this traumatic condition. And also I've got two other physical handicaps namely that they never built these things high enough and secondly my eyesight without glasses doesn't quite reach the page so with your permission I'll take them off and put them on in true learned-counsel way from time to time when addressing the Court of Appeal.
Anyone who watched the Olympic Games in Munich on television caught only a glimpse of the colour, excitement and atmosphere that surrounded those Games.
Those of us who were fortunate enough to have been in Munich as spectators got a much greater picture of what the Olympics are all about, and the tremendous organization that was required to stage such a magnificent event.
From an insider's point of view, the operations at Munich were truly a superb example of imagination and idealism converted to reality by first rate administration.
To understand the Munich Olympics, as distinct from previous summer games in Mexico, or Rome or even Tokyo, it is necessary to recall the 1936 games in Berlin-the so-called Nazi Olympics. And I might interject that that was my first exposure to Olympic Games and, nothing like getting in a plug, because it was really my only claim to fame at these games. I had the honour of carrying the Canadian flag. That's because I was the tallest member of the team.
In a very real sense this second factor was a major political objective in what the Germans had to do. They, first of all, had to stage the biggest festival because the numbers of countries participating, the numbers of athletes competing, had steadily increased. The second factor to which I refer is the fact that they wanted to introduce to the world the new Germany as contrasted to the Nazi Germany of 1936 and to the so-called Nazi Olympics of that year. They set out with this objective in mind making this a political objective and I think they almost succeeded.
It is interesting to note that the cost of staging the Olympics was only slightly larger than the cost of an aircraft carrier and as a political instrument, therefore, staging the Munich Games was actually a bargain financially.
The friendliness of the host country, the beauty of the surrounding area, the charm of Munich were seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors to that fair city and a further estimated 900,000,000 people caught glimpses of the new Germany as they sat in front of television sets in every part of the world.
The happy, friendly atmosphere of the Munich Olympics, which prevailed throughout the early days of the games, however, was shattered by the intrusion of political terror. It is inevitable but nonetheless rather saddening to me to find that the first question that is ever asked since my return is about, of course, the terrorist attack on the Israeli athletes.
And this small band of terrorists, with a political purpose far removed from the ideals of the Olympics, was successful in casting a cloud of shock, of dismay and deep mourning over a festival of friendship and international goodwill.
Now there has been much conjecture of course and considerable criticism over the security arrangements at Munich, and I suppose this will be an issue that will be debated for some time to come.
Security was a problem and it will always continue to be a problem, because we in North America have been witness to examples of sick minds who have been able to thwart security arrangements surrounding U.S. political figures and here in Canada we have had our own examples of tragedy and of terror.
Security from such intrusions as the terrorist attack in Munich cannot be left entirely to police or military barriers around an event. It must start in the areas of their source, in the problems of poverty and political extremism.
In a sense, perhaps, the decision to continue the Games after the tragedy reflected the awareness that every step toward building a community of man and international goodwill is, in fact, a step toward halting the growth of violence.
The Olympic Games are not a panacea. They cannot resolve the problems of international antagonisms-but they can and they do help in this area and at one time, of course, in ancient Greece, they did serve to call a truce between warring city states for a brief period every time the Games were held.
From Munich there will be lessons for Montreal in the area of security, but realistically we must also expect that there will be other lessons from time to time from subsequent actions of political groups because so far we have not seen any significant decline in this area of political activity as recently as even the past weekend.
Now, of course, the second most immediate question of the Munich Games from a Canadian point of view is the performance of the Canadian team.
This was the largest team that Canada has ever sent to the Olympics. There were 219 athletes, 26 coaches, 14 managers, 7 technicians and a headquarters staff of 6, and in support there was also a medical team of 12 comprising doctors, nurses and physiotherapists. There were also 9 grooms for the horses of our equestrians, a very important component of our main team, and three athletes and a manager involved in demonstration sports of water skiing and badminton.
The selection of the Canadian Olympic team involves standards of performance. As a starting point, the International Sports Federations set up minimum standards-measureable performances in time, in height and distance in such sports that allow such things. In some team sports there were qualifying preliminaries in several parts of the world to reduce the Olympic field to manageable proportions.
The Canadian approach was to use the established standards as guide lines. About a year prior to the Olympics, the Canadian Olympic Association consulted with the sports federations of Canada and examined the standards and the number of athletes who might reasonably be expected to reach these standards.
The estimates of the experts as is often the case, at that time proved to be too conservative. In some cases, the estimated number of athletes in a sport was raised after the trials to add unexpected qualifyers. In some cases, more athletes surpassed minimum standards for a particular event than could be accredited to the team under the rules. . . And so there were some problems in selecting athletes, and some unfortunate controversies within a couple of the sports federations because certain athletes who surpassed minimum standards could not it) fact be selected to go on the team.
This may be a good time to re-emphasize the fact that the COA sets the guide lines, but the team members are selected by the various sports governing federations. No athlete was left at home because of lack of funds and this is a criticism we sometimes hear. The COA, through its support from Olympic Trust of Canada and from the Federal Government, was able to send every athlete nominated by the sports federations.
And I might interject just by way of explanation because President Joe Potts has introduced many people at the head table as being members of governors of the Olympic Trust of Canada. This is the fund raising arm of the Canadian Olympic Association and it was set up two years ago under the chairmanship of George Mara. It is composed of a great many outstanding businessmen right across the country and they have set as their task raising adequate funds not only to keep the Canadian Olympic Association and its teams going but also to help in the development of athletes and all the other various day-today activities that the COA is faced with. So, we are very grateful that this organization has come into being. It is the representative, therefore, of public support from the private sector as contrasted to government support which usually occurs by direct grant.
The COA guide lines were set up to take into account the different stages of development in the various sports. In some sports such as track and field, swimming and diving, the guide lines were basically that an athlete should be one who would have a reasonable chance of giving a good show at the Olympics-for example, reaching a semi-final or perhaps being within the top 20 or 25 competitors.
For other sports which are not yet so far advanced in Canada, the sports federation in question was allowed to send its best athletes even though they would have little chance of reaching the top 25. An example of this was our modern pentathlon team, representing a sport which only has a year or two of history in this country.
And just by way of explanation for those who are not familiar with the term, this is a sport which comprises five different disciplines namely equestrian jumping (that is very much the same as show jumping only perhaps, well, I wouldn't say it's tougher but it's very similar), pistol shooting, fencing, swimming and ending up with a tough cross-country run. So you can see that this is a sport that requires not only great skill and considerable technique but also a lot of stamina and a lot of courage.
The most encouraging aspect of the selection procedure was the number of athletes in so many sports who were in contention for a berth on the team. There was a far greater pool of athletic talent approaching international standards of competition than anyone had predicted. This reflects the growing strength of the sports federation program right down to the community level.
Now in addition to having financial resources to send all the athletes who qualified, the COA was able to arrange an outstanding package of clothing, and equipment and uniforms, for each individual member of the team. And our two athletes here are demonstrating some of the equipment. Miss Hannah is wearing the girl's sort of official uniform. Our yachting representative has only got his tie and his blazer left because he traded all the other things away for those of other countries. They were in great demand.
So our 1972 team was the best dressed, best equipped Olympic Team we have ever sent. It was also the best served in terms of medical and support personnel because this also had been an area of some criticism in times gone by.
So with all this behind team selection and the operation of the team, it is natural to ask how well Canadian athletes actually did in Munich.
Well I suppose the most obvious yardstick is medals. Canadian athletes won five medals in Mexico including a gold in equestrian jumping. In Munich, they won five medals also, but this time no gold however. This would appear to imply that the Canadians did not do as well in 1972 as they did in 1968. Canada had more athletes in Munich, in fact about one hundred more than we had in Mexico City, so we would appear to have slipped rather badly. However, it is not a simple answer; there are other factors to consider. There were some 2,000 more athletes competing in Munich than there were in Mexico. But even more significant in the intervening four years was the intensive national effort of several countries to win medals. East Germany, Cuba and Hungary are just three of several examples with intensive sport development programs designed to produce medal winners. And just by way of an example I might point out that in the 1967 Pan American Games that were held in Winnipeg, Canada was well ahead of Cuba on medal standing and on official point scoring. The reverse was true in the Pan American Games in 1971 and the Cubans also did extremely well in Munich.
The programs adopted in these countries are obviously effective, but so far, Canada has not seen fit to copy them and quite frankly, gentlemen, I really feel that few Canadians would be willing to endorse the political systems which are necessary for the proper carrying out of their particular way of working toward medal winning.
This does not mean that these systems are the only ones to use if medals are in fact the goal. Other countries have used other approaches with success. And I refer, for example, to Australia and to Sweden and even to Finland, the country which I have the honour to represent here in Toronto.
As I mentioned previously, there was an unexpectedly large number of athletes who were serious contenders for a place on the Canadian team. In actual competition at Munich there were other encouraging signs of progress. For example, our wrestling team in Mexico managed to win a total of one bout. In Munich we won eight bouts.
There are other signs of progress in the canoe events, this is a sport that had its origin in Canada. And incidentally in fact one of the events is referred to as the Canadian canoe and it is always slightly embarrassing to see Hungarians and Czechs and Russians and East Germans and so on coming out ahead. But nevertheless, this is a sport in which we are making progress, as well we should.
Our swimmers were strong contenders as was expected, but our divers, although they did well, were somewhat disappointed in their own results. Our women gymnasts improved their point performances over Mexico results and have achieved world recognition today as an outstanding gymnastic nation in a very tough and competitive sport. In addition to those who won medals we have many good individual performances. And a few names like Bruce Simpson in the pole vault, Abby Hoffman in the Women's 800 meters, Christilot Hanson in the Women's Dressage Equitation and little Glenda Reiser ran a fabulous race in the 1500 meters for women, and many others come to mind.
However, we must face the fact that Canada is still falling behind in overall international standings. While we have more athletes approaching the minimum standards, we are dropping behind in the number of athletes who are achieving the top level of performance.
We have a growing pool of potential stars but lack procedures for keeping them in competition, and improving their performances until they reach full potential as mature athletes.
Now to meet this problem, and the Chairman has already touched on this, the Canadian Olympic Association and the Sports Federations have developed a special program called Game Plan '76.
This plan is ostensibly for the 1976 games but, in fact, is designed to have a long term beneficial impact on all sports in Canada and the effects will go long beyond 1976.
The key to the plan is a very special effort to help our best athletes in every sport to achieve a world level of competition and to achieve their best potential with the object of 1976 in view.
Anyone who witnessed the trouble that our pro hockey players had with the Soviet Hockey Team can have some idea of the odds which face our Canadian athletes in international competition.
The calibre of the athlete on the Hockey Team of the U.S.S.R. and for that matter Czechoslovakia, is found repeated in the international teams of many countries in many sports at the international level.
As I said before "Canada has many potential stars, but to date has consistently ignored the problem of providing reasonable opportunities for our best athletes to reach their full potential.
For example, to Sapporo we sent a cross-country ski team made up of youngsters of 17, 18 and 19 years of age. They were, and still are the best in Canada, a great group of competitors. The competition they faced, however, were athletes who were much more mature. I think the youngest of them would be well in advance of the mid twenties. Some of them were in their thirties and many of them were veterans of tough international competition. And, of course the same thing holds in hockey that for years we were sending what we might call junior calibre players to play against Russia, Sweden and Czechoslovakia. And yet we were always very surprised, of course, when we didn't win.
So if we can give our best athletes the coaching, the training and the competitive experience, which is on a par with that given to the athletes of other countries, Canada will do very well at the Olympics, and in every other international sports that we may enter.
Game Plan '76 is a very simple project in concept. It fits into the overall development programs of the sports Federations, but calls for an extra effort tied into a target date of 1976.
All that the COA and the Federations are really seeking is a chance to demonstrate in Game Plan '76 what can be done and, in fact, what must be done if we want Canadian athletes to have a reasonable chance of competing favourably in international competition and particularly in the Montreal Games.
Game Plan '76 is designed for the Canadian way of life. It is tailored to our circumstances. It is not a copy program of systems applied in East Germany or Hungary or Russia.
Just last week the COA was able to announce that Game Plan '76 had achieved the unanimous support of all the sports federations-which, I can assure you was no mean accomplishment in itself-but that it had also achieved the unanimous support of all the ten provinces and the two territories of Canada. The directors of sport and recreation for the provinces and territories voted unanimously to support this plan.
All that is now required is official commitment of support from the Federal Government, which we are not quite sure about at the moment, and Game Plan '76 will have the unique distinction of being a project with truly national support from coast to coast and across our Northland. The support of the Federal Government, whichever it may be, is absolutely essential to the success of this plan because there is no getting away for it, it does and it will cost money to give this special effort, this special impetus to our best athletes hopefully bringing them up to Olympic standards for '76.
While the Game Plan goes forward, there is also planning for staging the games in Montreal.
Hosting of the Summer Games in Montreal is still a matter of considerable controversy. Most of this surrounds estimates of costs, but most of it also ignores one very important fact. And that is Montreal is not facing the task of matching or trying to surpass Munich. And that is something I would like stressed. The real challenge to the Montreal organizing committee lies in bringing the Olympic Games down in costs so that they can be staged, as originally intended, by many nations, not just a few economically powerful countries.
The success of Montreal in stating the Games on a more modest scale is important to Canada, but it could also save the life of the Olympic Games and the Olympic movement and it is a very, very important issue.
We have a number of advantages to help us in this task. First and foremost is the fact that Canada has no such urgent political objective that faced Germany and faced Japan when it had the Winter Games, or the Summer Games of 1964 for that matter.
Secondly, the costs of Munich included construction of services and facilities that already exist in Montreal. And I might say with all due respect to my very good friend the Consul General, or the Consul--pardon me, I promoted him--Munich went on a binge and they provided terrific facilities. Everything was done, superbly but we do not feel here in Canada and in Montreal that this is going to be necessary.
Thirdly, everyone connected with the Olympic movement is conscious of the fact that the Games have become in fact too big and the peripheral activities, for example, the cultural program in Mexico and in Munich lasted a whole year and there were so many things going on, any one individual, or group of individuals, couldn't possibly get to see everything. So, some of these are too extensive and, I might say, expensive.
The flavour, the colour, the atmosphere and in particular the quality of competition in the Games is not a product of scale. It's not a product necessarily of great size. These are dependent upon the imagination and skill of the organizing committee with, of course, the help of the athletes.
The organizing committee will need the assistance, the support, the involvement of all Canadians if it is to succeed in its mission.
And we can sit back and say to the committee, "Well, go ahead and show me" or we can go a little farther out of our way to hear this message coming now from Montreal-and for the future of the Olympics.
Canada endorsed the Montreal bid for hosting the Summer Games just as Canada endorsed the bid of Garibaldi in Vancouver to host the Winter Games and the City of Edmonton bid which recently was accepted for hosting the Commonwealth Games in 1978.
Now the time has come to back up our endorsation of the Montreal bid.
It is not a matter of supporting blindly a project of international prestige-an exercise in national extravagance. It is a matter of supporting a commitment of Canada and, more important, a matter of understanding the true dimensions of that commitment.
Montreal is not to be a competition with Tokyo, with Mexico City and with Munich. It is not to be a demonstration that we can do more and bigger and better than was done in those magnificent spectacles.
Montreal is to be the Games that alters the trend toward giantism and towards a political showcase. Montreal is to be the Games that marks the return of the Olympics to human scale, to a sports festival which can take the athletes of the world to many countries and to every continent. And just as an aside, I just received correspondence now from East Africa that as a result of discussions along these lines that we had in Munich even Kenya itself is beginning to think: well, maybe we can hold the Games if Montreal can only be successful in scaling down costs and so on of Olympic games, perhaps we in Africa can do the same. And this would be a tremendous thing for the world Olympic movement.
So the Montreal '76 organizing committee is seeking a distinctive approach, within a scale that can be duplicated by many less economically fortunate nations. If the committee succeeds, and I think it will, not only will Canada have a legacy of goodwill of improved or new facilities with a reservoir of internationally trained and potential athletes with coaches, with officials in sports experience and techniques, but the future of the Olympics will be secured so that other countries less economically fortunate can carry the future Olympic torch for a long time to come.
Thank you Gentlemen.
Mr. Worrall was thanked on behalf of The Empire Club by Dr. Harold V. Cranfield, a Past President of the Club.
It has been said that medical students add 30,000 to 40,000 words to their vocabulary and I do not include the Hippocratic oath with which they are so familiar. In consequence, tricks are used to keep this information orderly and available. One example I shall give you--it is in neuroanatomy--the physician must be able to locate and bring to mind the names of the nerves that run directly from the brain. There are twelve of these cranial nerves.
I have never ceased to be impressed with the importance of Olympus. The first Olympic Games were held in 776 B.C. as you have heard on the plain of Olympia and that part of Greece called Ellas. As you all know, these games were revived in 1896. I was rather young at the time. It is said that Themistocles being asked whether he would rather be Achilles or Homer replied "Which would you rather be-a conqueror in the Olympic Games or the crier that proclaims who are conquerors. "
Our speaker today, Mr. James Worrall, Q. C., has been both and noting his stature, bearing and appearance, it is readily seen why Olympus is traditionally known as the home of the Greek Gods.
I was not in Munich for the Games-1 was in Britain at the time and sat up into the night watching the perfection of the events on Channel 1 of B.B.C. up to the time of that deed of treachery that spoiled it for us all. The word assassin, as you well know, comes appropriately from Arabia and meant "one who eats hashish". My Oxford Dictionary says an assassin is "one who kills treacherously". From our speaker today we have learned how truly treacherous and infamous an act occurred at Munich and its nearly threatening effect on the Olympic Games. Fortunately, these will survive. Certainly as long as we have a salesman such as our speaker today to persuade us of their importance and of the part that we must play. We are in debt for his clear message despite the sadness of part of it. I would go so far as to predict that after today, the men of this audience will associate the name "James Worrall" rather than that of Avery Brundage with all that is good about the Olympics. After all, there are those that say "Avery, he's for the birds."
Future Empire Club presidents might borrow the expression "Olympiad" which means as you all know the four-year cycle of the Olympic Game occurrence. If they did so, they would ask Mr. Worrall back and in so doing would enrich our lives with other sterling addresses at these four-year intervals. Therefore, sir, will you please accept our warm gratitude for your Olympian presence.