The explosion that brought death and injury to Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park in the early hours of last Saturday morning had gut-wrenching resonance for four members of the SI contingent covering the Games. The four—assistant managing editor Jerry Kirshenbaum, director of photography Heinz Kluetmeier, senior writer Kenny Moore and special contributor Anita Verschoth—were also on hand when terrorism stained the Munich Games in 1972, Moore as a U.S. Olympian who finished fourth in the marathon, the others as journalists.
For Moore, whose reflections on the horrors of Munich and Atlanta appear on page 30, and our other 1972 veterans, last week's bombing prompted thoughts of a time when the Olympics were more innocent, when athletes, journalists and spectators mingled without thought of harm. In Munich, until the Games were shattered, Kirshenbaum hung out in Mark Spitz's room in the Olympic Village—no metal detectors, no checking of bags—and he, Kluetmeier and Verschoth took Spitz out for a celebratory dinner after the swimmer won his seventh gold medal. It was later that evening, a few hours after Spitz had returned to the Village, that Arab terrorists stole into the Village on a mission of hate that resulted in the murder of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches and the death of one German policeman and five terrorists.
Last week's attack, by eerie coincidence, also occurred in the wee hours after the final night of swimming. "The explosion in the park is another reminder that one mad act can destroy good feelings," says Kluetmeier. Verschoth, who has covered every Olympics since 1964 and who makes the medal picks in our Olympic preview issues, offers this grim, surefire prediction: "Because of Munich and, now, Atlanta, in the future every Olympic host city will be a fortress."
If the Games have become more complex since 1972, so has SI's coverage of them. In Munich we had nine staffers on the scene. In Atlanta there is a 140-member team producing three publications. Besides filling the better part of three regular weekly issues of SI with Olympic coverage, these editors, writers, reporters, photographers, artists, engineers and technicians are turning out 18 issues of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED OLYMPIC DAILY, a 44-page, four-color magazine with an Atlanta-only circulation of 250,000, as well as a 136-page commemorative issue that will come out three days after the closing ceremonies. In addition, news of the Games is featured on SI's Web site (www.sportsillustrated.com).
"SI seeks to be a weekly magazine with the immediacy of a daily newspaper," says Kirshenbaum, who is overseeing the logistics of our Olympic operation. "During the Games our aim is to create a daily publication with the visual appeal and in-depth quality of a weekly magazine." The New York Times credited early issues of the DAILY with a timeliness that "gives on-line technology a run for its money." Headed by assistant managing editor Mike Bevans, the DAILY is timely enough to have carried a story on the Atlanta bombing in the edition that closed at 3:30 a.m. Saturday and hit the streets by 7:30 a.m. It was a story we wish we didn't have to run.