The Bouldering World Championship will be held below the impressive canopies of the Munich Olympic Stadium – one of Germany’s largest and historically most significant sports stadiums. For many years, the Olympic Stadium was mainly popular with football fans, both from Munich and all over the world, but it has predominantly been used for large events, concerts and sports competitions in recent years. The German Wikipedia entry describes the Munich Olympic Stadium as follows:
“The Munich Olympic Stadium is the central sports stadium in the Olympic Park. It was the main venue for the 1972 Summer Olympics. The Olympic Stadium is probably the venue that has hosted the most international sports events in Germany, among them the FIFA World Cup finals in 1974 and the UEFA European Football Championship finals in 1988, as well as three UEFA Champions League finals. From 1972 to 2005, the Olympic Stadium was home to the FC Bayern Munich and, with some lengthy breaks, to the TSV 1860 Munich. In 2005, both Munich football teams moved to the newly constructed Allianz Arena.
After Munich was awarded the XXth Olympic Summer Games in 1966, the organisers began to look for a suitable location for the Olympic venues and eventually selected the Oberwiesenfeld, an area of about 3 sqkm in the city’s north that offered plenty of scope for development. The chosen theme was “Green Olympics” (or, more precisely: Green Games, Games of Freedom, Games on a Human Scale), but at the same time it was intended that the Games should embody the ideals of democracy. From this conceptual basis, the Olympiapark Architectural Group, comprising Günter Behnisch, Fritz Auer, Carlo Weber, Eberhard Tränkner and Winfried Büxel, collaborated with the German architect and structural engineer Frei Otto and the landscape planner Günther Grzimek to design a stadium that is harmoniously integrated into its environment. As part of this holistic approach, the Olympic Stadium was carefully laid down in an artificially created basin.
Frei Otto’s sails construction connects the stadium to access ways and the Olympic Park. The turf was the first in Germany to feature a heating system. After the Olympic Games, the Olympic Stadium was mainly used for football matches, both national and international, but also hosted several international track and field competitions, as it was also designed for this type of events. It continues to be a popular venue for major cultural events such as pop concerts. After its completion, the Olympic Stadium became Bavaria’s largest stadium, ahead of the Augsburg Rosenau Stadium. In the late 1970s, its capacity was reduced from about 80,000 to 77,573 spectators for safety reasons, and reduced even further to 72,000 for the UEFA European Football Championship in 1988.
When UEFA ruled out standing areas in football stadiums after the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, the capacity of the Olympic Stadium finally decreased to 69,000, of which ultimately only 63,000 tickets were made available during FC Bayern Munich home games in the national football league due to restricted visibility in the bottom rows. When the DFB (German Football Association) applied to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup in 1993, the issue of modernising the Olympic Stadium was raised, as FIFA had introduced new requirements for World Cup stadiums, which the Olympic Stadium failed to meet. The project was supported by the FC Bayern Munich, whose home games were held at the Olympic Stadium and which had worked towards having the stadium converted into a football-only venue for some time. However, the proposal was discarded after Günter Behnisch, one of the original architects, rejected the plans and it was not to be expected that he would change his decision. Instead, plans for a new football stadium on the outskirts of Munich were developed in cooperation with the TSV 1860 Munich club, and the new stadium has been home to both clubs since summer 2005. The Olympic Stadium has not been used for football matches since, only for track and field events and concerts. In return, the new football arena is not made available for cultural events.”
In 2013, the Olympic Park hosted on stop of the World X Games of extreme sports with a unique combination of events. Even though the Games were an all-round success, the US organiser, ESPN, unexpectedly decided to terminate its contract with the new host cities of Munich, Barcelona, Tignes and Foz de Iguacu (Brazil) prematurely, but in the wake of this painful decision, the Olympic Park management decided to host its own extreme sports festival: The Munich Mash started in 2014 and combined motocross, BMX and mountain bike events, featuring the world`s best athletes who performed their breath-taking stunts and tricks. With another edition in 2015, the Munich Olympic Park has added another few extreme, spectacular competitions to the already wide range of sports it has already hosted.
Indeed, bouldering is on the way to becoming one of the more established sports events held at the Olympic Park: the location has proven its worth as an ideal competition venue in the course of four series of the Bouldering World Cup and the 2014 Bouldering World Championships held in all sorts of weather, including thunderstorms, heavy rains, strong winds and relentless heat. Finally, the international competitive climbing circuit probably only includes very few venues that offer such a rich tradition and a comparably spectacular environment. A walk through the Olympic Park is highly recommended for all visitors of the World Championship – with its green, open spaces and many sights and facilities, the Park is a true highlight of any visit to Munich, especially in summer.