Tehran 1974 Asian Games, a Nostalgia Left of the Reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
It is important to review the Tehran Asian Games not only because it is considered as the biggest sports event in the history of Iran where Iranian athletes succeeded at winning 36 gold, 28 silver and 17 bronze medals, fewer than Japan and higher than China that ranked them second in the games but if the political and social circumstances of the Asian countries in the 1970s is taken into account-even concurrently with these games-it will shed light on how Iran’s economic growth and stable security measures guaranteed peace and friendship between nations.
Tehran hosted the Asian Games for the first time in the Middle East from September 1 to 16, 1974, and three years after victory in the Six-Day War with Arab states, Israel was experiencing its last presence in the Asian Olympics. Although Saudi Arabia and Palestine refused to participate in the games because of Israel’s presence, the impressive attendance of a hundred thousand men and women in the Aryamehr Stadium pushed the news of the Saudi boycott to the margins. In East Asia, except for Japan, many countries were in special social, political and consequently economic conditions. A year had passed since the United States armed forces had departed from Vietnam, and the Arab emirate Gulf countries were on the verge of establishment. The aftermath of the Korean War was still tangible and the communist China was still in a revolutionary state. Nevertheless, Ephraim Katzir, the then Israeli president, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand and President Park Chung-hee of South Korea were among the invitees that attended the games.
3010 athletes from 25 Asian countries participated and it was the first time for Mongolia and North Korea to participate in the Asian Games. (2400 athletes in the 1970 and 1945 athletes in the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games, 1960 athletes in the 1962 Jakarta Games, and 1820 athletes from sixteen countries participated in the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games)
In addition to the sixteen existing sports fields, fencing, gymnastics and women’s basketball also made it to the 1974 Tehran Asian Games. Apparently, Gholamreza Pahlavi, the then head of Iran’s National Olympic Committee and Amir-Abbas Hoveyda, the Premier of the imperial regime at the time, also head of the executive committee of these games, played a significant role in admitting women’s basketball competitions to the Asian Games.
In the opening ceremony of these games, Aryamehr Stadium looked especially spectacular with the release of five thousand white doves symbolizing peace and hundreds of colorful balloons as a sign of joy and happiness. Ali Baghbanbashi, the renowned marathon runner of our country, lit the beautiful torch of the games and the beautiful anthem of these games, a musical masterpiece by Heshmat Senjari, elevated the spectators in the stadium.
The Tehran Asian Games were a manifestation of Iran’s golden days that were never repeated again.
SportsEmic Editorial Team – Written by Farzad Youshanlou