The 1896 Summer Olympics (Greek: Θερινοί Ολυμπιακοί Αγώνες 1896, Therinoí Olympiakoí Agó̱nes 1896), officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, was the first international Olympic Games held in modern history. Organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which had been created by Pierre de Coubertin, it was held in Athens, Greece, from 6 to 15 April 1896.
Winners were given a silver medal, while runners-up received a copper medal. Retroactively, the IOC has converted these to gold and silver, and awarded bronze medals to third placed athletes. Ten of the 14 participating nations earned medals. The United States won the most gold medals, 11; host nation Greece won the most medals overall, 46. The highlight for the Greeks was the marathon victory by their compatriot Spyridon Louis. The most successful competitor was German wrestler and gymnastCarl Schuhmann, who won four events.
Athens had been unanimously chosen to stage the inaugural modern Games during a congress organised by Coubertin in Paris on 23 June 1894, during which the IOC was also created, because Greece was the birthplace of the Ancient Olympic Games. The main venue was the Panathenaic Stadium, where athletics and wrestling took place; other venues included the Neo Phaliron Velodrome for cycling, and the Zappeion for fencing. The opening ceremony was held in the Panathenaic Stadium on 6 April, during which most of the competing athletes were aligned on the infield, grouped by nation. After a speech by the president of the organising committee, Crown Prince Constantine, his father officially opened the Games. Afterwards, nine bands and 150 choir singers performed an Olympic Hymn, composed by Spyridon Samaras, with words by poet Kostis Palamas.
The 1896 Olympics were regarded as a great success. The Games had the largest international participation of any sporting event to that date. The Panathenaic Stadium, the only Olympic stadium used in the 1800s, overflowed with the largest crowd ever to watch a sporting event. After the Games, Coubertin and the IOC were petitioned by several prominent figures, including Greece's King George and some of the American competitors in Athens, to hold all the following Games in Athens. However, the 1900 Summer Olympics were already planned for Paris and, except for the Intercalated Games of 1906, the Olympics did not return to Greece until the 2004 Summer Olympics, 108 years later.
Reviving the Games
During the 19th century, several small-scale sports festivals across Europe were named after the Ancient Olympic Games. The 1870 Olympics at the Panathenaic stadium, which had been refurbished for the occasion, had an audience of 30,000 people.Pierre de Coubertin, a French pedagogue and historian, adopted Dr William Penny Brookes' idea to establish a multi-national and multi-sport event—the ancient games only allowed male athletes of Greek origin to participate. In 1890, Coubertin wrote an article in La Revue Athletique, which espoused the importance of Much Wenlock—a rural market town in the English county of Shropshire. It was here that, in October 1850, the local physician William Penny Brookes had founded the Wenlock Olympian Games, a festival of sports and recreations that included athletics and team sports, such as cricket, football and quoits. Coubertin also took inspiration from the earlier Greek games organised under the name of Olympics by businessman and philanthropist Evangelis Zappas in 1859, 1870 and 1875. The 1896 Athens Games was funded by the legacies of Evangelis Zappas and his cousin Konstantinos Zappas and by George Averoff who had been specifically requested by the Greek government, through crown prince Constantine, to sponsor the second refurbishment of the Panathenaic Stadium. This the Greek government did despite the fact that the cost of refurbishing the stadium in marble had already been funded in full by Evangelis Zappas forty years earlier.
With deep feeling towards Baron de Coubertin's courteous petition, I send him and the members of the Congress, with my sincere thanks, my best wishes for the revival of the Olympic Games.
— King George of Greece (21 June 1894)
On 18 June 1894, Coubertin organised a congress at the Sorbonne, Paris, to present his plans to representatives of sports societies from 11 countries. Following his proposal's acceptance by the congress, a date for the first modern Olympic Games needed to be chosen. Coubertin suggested that the Games be held concurrently with the 1900 Universal Exposition of Paris. Concerned that a six-year waiting period might lessen public interest, congress members opted instead to hold the inaugural Games in 1896. With a date established, members of the congress turned their attention to the selection of a host city. It remains a mystery how Athens was finally chosen to host the inaugural Games. In the following years both Coubertin and Demetrius Vikelas would offer recollections of the selection process that contradicted the official minutes of the congress. Most accounts hold that several congressmen first proposed London as the location, but Coubertin dissented. After a brief discussion with Vikelas, who represented Greece, Coubertin suggested Athens. Vikelas made the Athens proposal official on 23 June, and since Greece had been the original home of the Olympics, the congress unanimously approved the decision. Vikelas was then elected the first president of the newly established International Olympic Committee (IOC).
News that the Olympic Games would return to Greece was well received by the Greek public, media, and royal family. According to Coubertin, "the Crown Prince Constantine learned with great pleasure that the Games will be inaugurated in Athens." Coubertin went on to confirm that, "the King and the Crown Prince will confer their patronage on the holding of these games." Constantine later conferred more than that; he eagerly assumed the presidency of the 1896 organising committee.
However, the country had financial troubles and was in political turmoil. The job of prime minister alternated between Charilaos Trikoupis and Theodoros Deligiannis frequently during the last years of the 19th century. Because of this financial and political instability, both prime minister Trikoupis and Stephanos Dragoumis, the president of the Zappas Olympic Committee, which had attempted to organise a series of national Olympiads, believed that Greece could not host the event. In late 1894, the organising committee under Stephanos Skouloudis presented a report that the cost of the Games would be three times higher than originally estimated by Coubertin. They concluded the Games could not be held, and offered their resignation. The total cost of the Games was 3,740,000 gold drachmas.
With the prospect of reviving the Olympic games very much in doubt, Coubertin and Vikelas commenced a campaign to keep the Olympic movement alive. Their efforts culminated on 7 January 1895 when Vikelas announced that crown prince Constantine would assume the presidency of the organising committee. His first responsibility was to raise the funds necessary to host the Games. He relied on the patriotism of the Greek people to motivate them to provide the required finances. Constantine's enthusiasm sparked a wave of contributions from the Greek public. This grassroots effort raised 330,000 drachmas. A special set of postage stamps were commissioned; the sale of which raised 400,000 drachmas. Ticket sales added 200,000 drachmas. At the request of Constantine, businessman George Averoff agreed to pay for the restoration of the Panathenaic Stadium. Averoff would donate 920,000 drachmas to this project. As a tribute to his generosity, a statue of Averoff was constructed and unveiled on 5 April 1896 outside the stadium. It stands there to this day.
Some of the athletes would take part in the Games because they happened to be in Athens at the time the Games were held, either on holiday or for work (e.g., some of the British competitors worked for the British embassy). A designated Olympic Village for the athletes did not appear until the 1932 Summer Olympics. Consequently, the athletes had to provide their own lodging.
The first regulation voted on by the new IOC in 1894 was to allow only amateur athletes to participate in the Olympic Games. The various contests were thus held under amateur regulations with the exception of fencing matches. The rules and regulations were not uniform, so the Organising Committee had to choose among the codes of the various national athletic associations. The jury, the referees and the game director bore the same names as in antiquity (Ephor, Helanodic and Alitarc). Prince George acted as final referee; according to Coubertin, "his presence gave weight and authority to the decisions of the ephors."
Seven venues were used for the 1896 Summer Olympics. Panathenaic Stadium was the main venue, hosting four of the nine sports contested. The city of Marathon served as host to the marathon event and the individual road race events. Swimming was held in the Bay of Zea, fencing at the Zappeion, sport shooting at Kallithea, and tennis at the Athens Lawn Tennis Club. Tennis was a sport unfamiliar to Greeks at the time of the 1896 Games.
The Bay of Zea is a seaport and marina in the Athens area; it was used as the swimming venue because the organizers of the Games wanted to avoid spending money on constructing a special purpose swimming venue.
Four of the 1896 venues were reused as competition venues for the 2004 Games. The velodrome would be renovated into a football stadium in 1964 and was known as Karaiskakis Stadium. This venue was renovated in 2003 for use as a football venue for the 2004 Games. During the 2004 Games, Panathinaiko Stadium served as host for archery competitions and was the finish line for the athletic marathon event. The city of Marathon itself served as the starting point for both marathon events during the 2004 Games. The Zappeion served as the first home of the organizing committee (ATHOC) for the 2004 Games from 1998 to 1999, and served as the main communications center during those Games.
|OC||Opening ceremony||●||Event competitions||1||Event finals||CC||Closing ceremony|
‡ The iconic Olympic rings symbol was not designed by Baron Pierre de Coubertin until 1912.
On 6 April (25 March according to the Julian calendar then in use in Greece), the games of the First Olympiad were officially opened; it was Easter Monday for both the Western and Eastern Christian Churches and the anniversary of Greece's independence. The Panathenaic Stadium was filled with an estimated 80,000 spectators, including King George I of Greece, his wife Olga, and their sons. Most of the competing athletes were aligned on the infield, grouped by nation. After a speech by the president of the organising committee, Crown Prince Constantine, his father officially opened the Games with the words (in Greek):
"I declare the opening of the first international Olympic Games in Athens. Long live the Nation. Long live the Greek people."
Afterwards, nine bands and 150 choir singers performed an Olympic Hymn, composed by Spyridon Samaras, with words by poet Kostis Palamas. Thereafter, a variety of musical offerings provided the backgrounds to the Opening Ceremonies until 1960, since which time the Samaras/Palamas composition has become the official Olympic Anthem (decision taken by the IOC Session in 1958). Other elements of current Olympic opening ceremonies were initiated later: the Olympic flame was first lit in 1928, the first athletes' oath was sworn at the 1920 Summer Olympics, and the first officials' oath was taken at the 1972 Olympic Games.
At the 1894 Sorbonne congress, a large roster of sports were suggested for the program in Athens. The first official announcements regarding the sporting events to be held featured sports such as football and cricket, but these plans were never finalised, and these sports did not make the final list for the Games.Rowing and yachting were scheduled, but had to be cancelled due to poor weather on the planned day of competition. As a result, the 1896 Summer Olympics programme featured 9 sports encompassing 10 disciplines and 43 events. The number of events in each discipline is noted in parentheses.
Main article: Athletics at the 1896 Summer Olympics
The athletics events had the most international field of any of the sports. The major highlight was the marathon, held for the first time in international competition. Spyridon Louis, a previously unrecognised water carrier, won the event to become the only Greek athletics champion and a national hero. Although Greece had been favoured to win the discus and the shot put, the best Greek athletes finished just behind the American Robert Garrett in both events.
No world records were set, as few top international competitors had elected to compete. In addition, the curves of the track were very tight, making fast times in the running events virtually impossible. Despite this, Thomas Burke, of the United States, won the 100-meter race in 12.0 seconds and the 400-meter race in 54.2 seconds. Burke was the only one who used the "crouch start" (putting his knee on soil), confusing the jury. Eventually, he was allowed to start from this "uncomfortable position".
Australian competitor Edwin Flack came to Athens to watch the games, but decided to compete in the athletics events. He won two races—the 800-meter and the 1500-meter.
Chile claims one athlete, Luis Subercaseaux, competed for the nation at the 1896 Summer Olympics. This makes Chile one of the 14 nations to appear at the inaugural Summer Olympic Games. Subercaseaux's results are not listed in the official report, though that report typically includes only winners and Subercaseaux won no medals. A study conducted by Chilean forensic police decided (by use of facial recognition), that Subercaseaux was the participant in a famous photo of 100 meter's second series.
Main article: Cycling at the 1896 Summer Olympics
The rules of the International Cycling Association were used for the cycling competitions. The track cycling events were held at the newly built Neo Phaliron Velodrome. Only one road event was held, a race from Athens to Marathon and back (87 kilometres).
In the track events, the best cyclist was Frenchman Paul Masson, who won the one lap time trial, the sprint event, and the 10,000 meters. In the 100 kilometres event, Masson entered as a pacemaker for his compatriot Léon Flameng. Flameng won the event, after a fall, and after stopping to wait for his Greek opponent Georgios Kolettis to fix a mechanical problem. The Austrian fencer Adolf Schmal won the 12-hour race, which was completed by only two cyclists, while the road race event was won by Aristidis Konstantinidis.
Main article: Fencing at the 1896 Summer Olympics
The fencing events were held in the Zappeion, which, built with money Evangelis Zappas had given to revive the ancient Olympic Games, had never seen any athletic contests before. Unlike other sports (in which only amateurs were allowed to take part at the Olympics), professionals were allowed to compete in fencing, though in a separate event. These professionals were considered gentlemen athletes, just as the amateurs.
Four events were scheduled, but the épée event was cancelled for unknown reasons. The foil event was won by a Frenchman, Eugène-Henri Gravelotte, who beat his countryman, Henri Callot, in the final. The other two events, the sabre and the masters foil, were won by Greek fencers. Leonidas Pyrgos, who won the latter event, became the first Greek Olympic champion in the modern era.
Main article: Gymnastics at the 1896 Summer Olympics
The gymnastics competition was carried out on the infield of the Panathinaiko Stadium. Germany had sent an 11-man team, which won five of the eight events, including both team events. In the team event on the horizontal bar, the German team was unopposed. Three Germans added individual titles: Hermann Weingärtner won the horizontal bar event, Alfred Flatow won the parallel bars; and Carl Schuhmann, who also competed successfully in wrestling, won the vault. Louis Zutter, a Swiss gymnast, won the pommel horse, while Greeks Ioannis Mitropoulos and Nikolaos Andriakopoulos were victorious in the rings and rope climbing events, respectively.
A regatta of sailing boats was on the program of the Games of the First Olympiad for 31 March 1896. However this event had to be given up.
The Official English report states:
The Regatta could not take place because some special boats embarkation had not been provided for.
— Charalambos Annino
The German version gives a bit more clues:
Die Wettkämpfe im Segeln wurden vereitelt, da man weder bei uns die besonderen Boote dafür besass, noch fremde Bewerber sich gemeldet hatten.
— same source.
Main article: Shooting at the 1896 Summer Olympics
Held at a range at Kallithea, the shooting competition consisted of five events—two using a rifle and three with the pistol. The first event, the military rifle, was won by Pantelis Karasevdas, the only competitor to hit the target with all of his shots. The second event, for military pistols, was dominated by two American brothers: John and Sumner Paine became the first siblings to finish first and second in the same event. To avoid embarrassing their hosts, the brothers decided that only one of them would compete in the next pistol event, the free pistol. Sumner Paine won that event, thereby becoming the first relative of an Olympic champion to become Olympic champion himself.
The Paine brothers did not compete in the 25-meter pistol event, as the event judges determined that their weapons were not of the required calibre. In their absence, Ioannis Phrangoudis won. The final event, the free rifle, began on the same day. However, the event could not be completed due to darkness and was finalised the next morning, when Georgios Orphanidis was crowned the champion.
Main article: Swimming at the 1896 Summer Olympics
The swimming competition was held in the open sea because the organizers had refused to spend the money necessary for a specially constructed stadium. Nearly 20,000 spectators lined the Bay of Zea off the Piraeus coast to watch the events. The water in the bay was cold, and the competitors suffered during their races. There were three open events (men's 100-metre freestyle, men's 500-metre freestyle, and men's 1200 metre freestyle), in addition to a special event open only to Greek sailors, all of which were held on the same day (11 April).
For Alfréd Hajós of Hungary, this meant he could only compete in two of the events, as they were held too close together, which made it impossible for him to adequately recuperate. Nevertheless, he won the two events in which he swam, the 100 and 1200 meter freestyle. Hajós later became one of only two Olympians to win a medal in both the athletic and artistic competitions, when he won a silver medal for architecture in 1924. The 500-meter freestyle was won by Austrian swimmer Paul Neumann, who defeated his opponents by more than a minute and a half.
Main article: Tennis at the 1896 Summer Olympics
Although tennis was already a major sport by the end of the 19th century, none of the top players turned up for the tournament in Athens. The competition was held at the courts of the Athens Lawn Tennis Club, and the infield of the velodrome used for the cycling events. John Pius Boland, who won the event, had been entered in the competition by a fellow-student of his at Oxford; the Greek, Konstantinos Manos. As a member of the Athens Lawn Tennis sub-committee, Manos had been trying, with the assistance of Boland, to recruit competitors for the Athens Games from among the sporting circles of Oxford University. In the first round, Boland defeated Friedrich Traun, a promising tennis player from Hamburg, who had been eliminated in the 100-meter sprint competition. Boland and Traun decided to team up for the doubles event, in which they reached the final and defeated their Greek and Egyptian opponents after losing the first set.
Main article: Weightlifting at the 1896 Summer Olympics
The sport of weightlifting was still young in 1896, and the rules differed from those in use today. Competitions were held outdoors, in the infield of the main stadium, and there were no weight limits. The first event was held in a style now known as the "clean and jerk". Two competitors stood out: Scotsman Launceston Elliot and Viggo Jensen of Denmark. Both of them lifted the same weight; but the jury, with Prince George as the chairman, ruled that Jensen had done so in a better style. The British delegation, unfamiliar with this tie-breaking rule, lodged a protest. The lifters were eventually allowed to make further attempts, but neither lifter improved, and Jensen was declared the champion.
Elliot got his revenge in the one hand lift event, which was held immediately after the two-handed one. Jensen had been slightly injured during his last two-handed attempt, and was no match for Elliot, who won the competition easily. The Greek audience was charmed by the Scottish victor, whom they considered very attractive. A curious incident occurred during the weightlifting event: a servant was ordered to remove the weights, which appeared to be a difficult task for him. Prince George came to his assistance; he picked up the weight and threw it a considerable distance with ease, to the delight of the crowd.
Main article: Wrestling at the 1896 Summer Olympics
No weight classes existed for the wrestling competition, held in the Panathenaic Stadium, which meant that there would only be one winner among competitors of all sizes. The rules used were similar to modern Greco-Roman wrestling, although there was no time limit, and not all leg holds were forbidden (in contrast to current rules).
Apart from the two Greek contestants, all the competitors had previously been active in other sports. Weightlifting champion Launceston Elliot faced gymnastics champion Carl Schuhmann. The latter won and advanced into the final, where he met Georgios Tsitas, who had previously defeated Stephanos Christopoulos. Darkness forced the final match to be suspended after 40 minutes; it was continued the following day, when Schuhmann needed only fifteen minutes to finish the bout.
On the morning of Sunday 12 April (or 3 April, according to the Julian calendar then used in Greece), King George the Great organised a banquet for officials and athletes (even though some competitions had not yet been held). During his speech, he made clear that, as far as he was concerned, the Olympics should be held in Athens permanently. The official closing ceremony was held the following Wednesday, after being postponed from Tuesday due to rain. Again the royal family attended the ceremony, which was opened by the national anthem of Greece and an ode composed in ancient Greek by George S. Robertson, a British athlete and scholar.
Afterwards, the king awarded prizes to the winners. Unlike today, the first-place winners received a silver medal, an olive branch and a diploma, while runners-up received a copper medal, a laurel branch, and diploma. Third place winners did not receive a prize.
Some winners also received additional prizes, such as Spyridon Louis, who received a cup from Michel Bréal, a friend of Coubertin, who had conceived the marathon event. Louis then led the medalists on a lap of honour around the stadium, while the Olympic Hymn was played again. The King then formally announced that the first Olympiad was at an end, and left the Stadium, while the band played the Greek national hymn and the crowd cheered.
Like the Greek king, many others supported the idea of holding the next Games in Athens; most of the American competitors signed a letter to the Crown Prince expressing this wish. Coubertin, however, was heavily opposed to this idea, as he envisioned international rotation as one of the cornerstones of the modern Olympics. According to his wish, the next Games were held in Paris, although they would be somewhat overshadowed by the concurrently held Universal Exposition.
The concept of national teams was not a major part of the Olympic movement until the Intercalated Games 10 years later, though many sources list the nationality of competitors in 1896 and give medal counts. There are significant conflicts with regard to which nations competed. The International Olympic Committee gives a figure of 14, but does not list them. The following 14 are most likely the ones recognised by the IOC. Some sources list 12, excluding Chile and Bulgaria; others list 13, including those two but excluding Italy. Egypt is also sometimes included because of Dionysios Kasdaglis' participation. Belgium and Russia had entered the names of competitors, but withdrew.
For a list of winter Olympic Games, see the list below.
"Winter Olympics" redirects here. For the TV episode of the The Goodies, see Winter Olympics (The Goodies). For the video game, see Winter Olympics (video game).
The Winter Olympic Games (French: Jeux olympiques d'hiver)[nb 1] is a major international sporting event held once every four years for sports practised on snow and ice. The first Winter Olympics, the 1924 Winter Olympics, were held in Chamonix, France. The modern Olympic games were inspired by the ancient Olympic Games, which were held in Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, leading to the first modern Summer Games in Athens, Greece in 1896. The IOC is the governing body of the Olympic Movement, with the Olympic Charter defining its structure and authority.
The original five Winter Olympics sports (broken into nine disciplines) were bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, Nordic skiing (consisting of the disciplines military patrol,[nb 2]cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, and ski jumping), and skating (consisting of the disciplines figure skating and speed skating).[nb 3] The Games were held every four years from 1924 to 1936, interrupted in 1940 and 1944 by World War II, and resumed in 1948. Until 1992 the Winter and Summer Olympic Games were held in the same years, but in accordance with a 1986 decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to place the Summer and Winter Games on separate four-year cycles in alternating even-numbered years, the next Winter Olympics after 1992 was in 1994.
The Winter Games have evolved since their inception. Sports and disciplines have been added and some of them, such as Alpine skiing, luge, short track speed skating, freestyle skiing, skeleton, and snowboarding, have earned a permanent spot on the Olympic programme. Some others, including curling and bobsleigh, have been discontinued and later reintroduced; others have been permanently discontinued, such as military patrol, though the modern Winter Olympic sport of biathlon is descended from it.[nb 2] Still others, such as speed skiing, bandy and skijoring, were demonstration sports but never incorporated as Olympic sports. The rise of television as a global medium for communication enhanced the profile of the Games. It generated income via the sale of broadcast rights and advertising, which has become lucrative for the IOC. This allowed outside interests, such as television companies and corporate sponsors, to exert influence. The IOC has had to address numerous criticisms over the decades like internal scandals, the use of performance-enhancing drugs by Winter Olympians, as well as a political boycott of the Winter Olympics. Nations have used the Winter (as well as Summer) Games to proclaim the superiority of their political systems.
The Winter Olympics has been hosted on three continents by eleven different countries. The Games have been held in the United States four times (1932, 1960, 1980, 2002); in France three times (1924, 1968, 1992); and in Austria (1964, 1976), Canada (1988, 2010), Japan (1972, 1998), Italy (1956, 2006), Norway (1952, 1994), and Switzerland (1928, 1948) twice. Also, the Games have been held in Germany(1936), Yugoslavia (1984), and Russia (2014) once. The IOC has selected Pyeongchang, South Korea, to host the 2018 Winter Olympics and Beijing, China, to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. As of 2017[update] no city in the southern hemisphere had applied to host the cold-weather-dependent Winter Olympics, which are held in February at the height of the southern hemisphere summer.
As of 2017[update], twelve countries – Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States – have sent athletes to every Winter Olympic Games. Six of those – Austria, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United States – have earned medals at every Winter Olympic Games, and only one – the United States – has earned gold at each Games. Norway leads the all-time medal table.
1900 to 1912
A predecessor, the Nordic Games, were organised by General Viktor Gustaf Balck in Stockholm, Sweden in 1901 and were held again in 1903 and 1905 and then every fourth year thereafter until 1926. Balck was a charter member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and a close friend of Olympic Games founder Pierre de Coubertin. He attempted to have winter sports, specifically figure skating, added to the Olympic programme but was unsuccessful until the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, United Kingdom. Four figure skating events were contested, at which Ulrich Salchow (10-time world champion) and Madge Syers won the individual titles.
Three years later, Italian count Eugenio Brunetta d'Usseaux proposed that the IOC stage a week of winter sports included as part of the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. The organisers opposed this idea because they desired to protect the integrity of the Nordic Games and were concerned about a lack of facilities for winter sports.
World War I
The idea was resurrected for the 1916 Games, which were to be held in Berlin, Germany. A winter sports week with speed skating, figure skating, ice hockey and Nordic skiing was planned, but the 1916 Olympics was cancelled after the outbreak of World War I.
1920 to 1936
The first Olympics after the war, the 1920 Summer Olympics, were held in Antwerp, Belgium, and featured figure skating and an ice hockey tournament. Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey were banned from competing in the Games. At the IOC Congress held the following year it was decided that the host nation of the 1924 Summer Olympics, France, would host a separate "International Winter Sports Week" under the patronage of the IOC. Chamonix was chosen to host this "week" (actually 11 days) of events. The Games proved to be a success when more than 250 athletes from 16 nations competed in 16 events. Athletes from Finlandand Norway won 28 medals, more than the rest of the participating nations combined. Germany remained banned until 1925, and instead hosted a series of games called Deutsche Kampfspiele, starting with the Winter edition of 1922 (which predated the first Winter Olympics). In 1925 the IOC decided to create a separate winter event and the 1924 Games in Chamonix was retroactively designated as the first Winter Olympics.
St. Moritz, Switzerland, was appointed by the IOC to host the second Winter Games in 1928. Fluctuating weather conditions challenged the hosts. The opening ceremony was held in a blizzard while warm weather conditions plagued sporting events throughout the rest of the Games. Because of the weather the 10,000 metre speed-skating event had to be abandoned and officially cancelled. The weather was not the only noteworthy aspect of the 1928 Games: Sonja Henieof Norway made history when she won the figure skating competition at the age of 15. She became the youngest Olympic champion in history, a distinction she held for 70 years.
The next Winter Olympics held in Lake Placid, New York, was the first to be hosted outside of Europe. Seventeen nations and 252 athletes participated. This was less than in 1928, as the journey to Lake Placid, United States, was long and expensive for most competitors, who had little money in the midst of the Great Depression. The athletes competed in fourteen events in four sports. Virtually no snow fell for two months before the Games, and there was not enough snow to hold all the events until mid-January. Sonja Henie defended her Olympic title, and Eddie Eagan of the United States, who had been an Olympic champion in boxing in 1920, won the gold medal in the men's bobsleigh event to become the first, and so far only, Olympian to have won gold medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
The German towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen joined to organise the 1936 edition of the Winter Games, held on 6–16 February. This was the last time the Summer and Winter Olympics were held in the same country in the same year. Alpine skiing made its Olympic debut, but skiing teachers were barred from entering because they were considered to be professionals. Because of this decision the Swissand Austrian skiers refused to compete at the Games.
World War II
World War II interrupted the holding of the Winter Olympics. The 1940 Games had been awarded to Sapporo, Japan, but the decision was rescinded in 1938 because of the Japanese invasion of China. The Games were then to be held at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, but the 1940 Games were cancelled following the German invasion of Poland in 1939. Due to the ongoing war, the 1944 Games, originally scheduled for Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy, were cancelled.
1948 to 1960
St. Moritz was selected to host the first post-war Games in 1948. Switzerland's neutrality had protected the town during World War II, and most of the venues were in place from the 1928 Games, which made St. Moritz a logical choice. It became the first city to host a Winter Olympics twice. Twenty-eight countries competed in Switzerland, but athletes from Germany and Japan were not invited. Controversy erupted when two hockey teams from the United States arrived, both claiming to be the legitimate U.S. Olympic hockey representative. The Olympic flag presented at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp was stolen, as was its replacement. There was unprecedented parity at these Games, during which 10 countries won gold medals—more than any Games to that point.
The Olympic Flame for the 1952 Games in Oslo, was lit in the fireplace by skiing pioneer Sondre Nordheim, and the torch relay was conducted by 94 participants entirely on skis.Bandy, a popular sport in the Nordic countries, was featured as a demonstration sport, though only Norway, Sweden, and Finland fielded teams. Norwegian athletes won 17 medals, which outpaced all the other nations. They were led by Hjalmar Andersen who won three gold medals in four events in the speed skating competition.
After not being able to host the Games in 1944, Cortina d'Ampezzo was selected to organise the 1956 Winter Olympics. At the opening ceremonies the final torch bearer, Guido Caroli, entered the Olympic Stadium on ice skates. As he skated around the stadium his skate caught on a cable and he fell, nearly extinguishing the flame. He was able to recover and light the cauldron. These were the first Winter Games to be televised, and the first Olympics ever broadcast to an international audience, though no television rights were sold until the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. The Cortina Games were used to test the feasibility of televising large sporting events.The Soviet Union made its Olympic debut and had an immediate impact, winning more medals than any other nation. Soviet immediate success might be explained by the advent of the state-sponsored "full-time amateur athlete". The USSR entered teams of athletes who were all nominally students, soldiers, or working in a profession, but many of whom were in reality paid by the state to train full-time.Chiharu Igaya won the first Winter Olympics medal for Japan and the continent of Asia when he placed second in the slalom.
The IOC awarded the 1960 Olympics to Squaw Valley, United States. It was an undeveloped resort in 1955, so from 1956 to 1960 the infrastructure and all of the venues were built at a cost of US$80,000,000. The opening and closing ceremonies were produced by Walt Disney. The Squaw Valley Olympics was the first winter Olympics to have a dedicated athletes' village, the first to use a computer (courtesy of IBM) to tabulate results, and the first to feature female speed skating events. The bobsleigh events were absent for the only time due to the cost of building a bobsleigh run.
1964 to 1980
The Austrian city of Innsbruck was the host in 1964. Although Innsbruck was a traditional winter sports resort, warm weather caused a lack of snow during the Games and the Austrian army was asked to transport snow and ice to the sport venues.Soviet speed-skater Lidia Skoblikova made history by sweeping all four speed-skating events. Her career total of six gold medals set a record for Winter Olympics athletes.Luge was first contested in 1964, although the sport received bad publicity when a competitor was killed in a pre-Olympic training run.
Held in the French town of Grenoble, the 1968 Winter Olympics were the first Olympic Games to be broadcast in colour. There were 37 nations and 1,158 athletes competing in 35 events.FrenchmanJean-Claude Killy became only the second person to win all the men's alpine skiing events. The organising committee sold television rights for US$2 million, which was more than twice the price of the broadcast rights for the Innsbruck Games. Venues were spread over long distances requiring three athletes' villages. The organisers claimed this was required to accommodate technological advances. Critics disputed this, alleging that the layout was necessary to provide the best possible venues for television broadcasts at the expense of the athletes.
The 1972 Winter Games, held in Sapporo, Japan, were the first to be hosted outside North America or Europe. The issue of professionalism became contentious during the Sapporo Games. Three days before the Games IOC president Avery Brundage threatened to bar a number of alpine skiers from competing because they participated in a ski camp at Mammoth Mountain in the United States. Brundage reasoned that the skiers had financially benefited from their status as athletes and were therefore no longer amateurs. Eventually only AustrianKarl Schranz, who earned more than all the other skiers, was not allowed to compete. Canada did not send teams to the 1972 or 1976 ice hockey tournaments in protest at not being able to use players from professional leagues.Francisco Fernández Ochoa became the first (and as of 2017 only) Spaniard to win a Winter Olympic gold medal; he triumphed in the slalom.
The 1976 Winter Olympics had been awarded in 1970 to Denver, Colorado in the United States. This would have coincided with the year of Colorado's centennial and the United States Bicentennial. However, in November 1972 the voters of Colorado voted against public funding of the games by a 3 to 2 margin. The IOC turned to offer the Games to Vancouver-Garibaldi, British Columbia, which had been a candidate for the 1976 Games. However, a change in provincial government brought in an administration which did not support the Olympic bid, so the offer was rejected. Salt Lake City, a candidate for the 1972 Games, offered itself, but the IOC opted to ask Innsbruck, which had maintained most of the infrastructure from the 1964 Games. Despite only having half the time to prepare for the Games, Innsbruck accepted the invitation to replace Denver in February 1973. Two Olympic flames were lit because it was the second time the Austrian town had hosted the Games. The 1976 Games featured the first combination bobsleigh and luge track, in neighbouring Igls. The Soviet Union won its fourth consecutive ice hockey gold medal.
In 1980 the Olympics returned to Lake Placid, which had hosted the 1932 Games. The first boycott of a Winter Olympics took place in 1980, when Taiwan refused to participate after an edict by the IOC mandated that they change their name and national anthem. The IOC was attempting to accommodate China, who wished to compete using the same name and anthem used by Taiwan. As a result, China participated for the first time since 1952. American speed-skater Eric Heiden set either an Olympic or world record in each of the five events he competed in, winning a total of five individual gold medals and breaking the record for most individual golds in a single Olympics (both Summer and Winter).Hanni Wenzel won both the slalom and giant slalom and her country, Liechtenstein, became the smallest nation to produce an Olympic gold medallist. In the "Miracle on Ice" the American hockey team composed of college players beat the favoured seasoned professionals from the Soviet Union, and then went on to win the gold medal.[nb 4]
1984 to 1998
Sapporo, Japan, and Gothenburg, Sweden, were front-runners to host the 1984 Winter Olympics. It was therefore a surprise when Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, was selected as host. The Games were well-organised and not affected by the run-up to the war that engulfed the country eight years later. A total of 49 nations and 1,272 athletes participated in 39 events. Host nation Yugoslavia won its first Olympic medal when alpine skier Jure Franko won a silver in the giant slalom. Another sporting highlight was the free dance performance of British ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. Their performance to Ravel's Boléro earned the pair the gold medal after achieving unanimous perfect scores for artistic impression.
In 1988 the Canadian city of Calgary hosted the first Winter Olympics to span 16 days. New events were added in ski-jumping and speed skating; while future Olympic sports curling, short track speed skating and freestyle skiing made their appearance as demonstration sports. For the first time the speed skating events were held indoors, on the Olympic Oval. Dutch skater Yvonne van Gennip won three gold medals and set two world records, beating skaters from the favoured East German team in every race. Her medal total was equalled by Finnish ski jumper Matti Nykänen, who won all three events in his sport. Alberto Tomba, an Italian skier, made his Olympic debut by winning both the giant slalom and slalom. East German Christa Rothenburger won the women's 1,000 metre speed skating event. Seven months later she would earn a silver in track cycling at the Summer Games in Seoul, to become the only athlete to win medals in both a Summer and Winter Olympics in the same year.
The 1992 Games were the last to be held in the same year as the Summer Games. They were hosted in the French Savoie region in the city of Albertville, though only 18 events were held in the city. The rest of the events were spread out over the Savoie. Political changes of the time were reflected in the Olympic teams appearing in France: this was the first Games to be held after the fall of Communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Germany competed as a single nation for the first time since the 1964 Games; former Yugoslavian republics Croatia and Slovenia made their debuts as independent nations; most of the former Soviet republics still competed as a single team known as the Unified Team, but the Baltic States made independent appearances for the first time since before World War II. At 16 years old, Finnish ski jumper Toni Nieminen made history by becoming the youngest male Winter Olympic champion.New Zealand skier Annelise Coberger became the first Winter Olympic medallist from the southern hemisphere when she won a silver medal in the women's slalom.
In 1986 the IOC had voted to separate the Summer and Winter Games and place them in alternating even-numbered years. This change became effective for the 1994 Games, held in Lillehammer, Norway, which became the first Winter Olympics to be held separately from the Summer Games. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the Czech Republic and Slovakia made their Olympic debuts. The women's figure skating competition drew media attention when American skaterNancy Kerrigan was injured on 6 January 1994, in an assault planned by the ex-husband of opponent Tonya Harding. Both skaters competed in the Games, but the gold medal was controversially won by Oksana Baiul, Kerrigan won silver. Baiul became Ukraine's first Olympic champion.Johann Olav Kossof Norway won three gold medals, coming first in all of the distance speed skating events.Juan Antonio Samaranch described Lillehammer as the best Winter Olympic Games ever in his closing ceremony speech.
The 1998 Winter Olympics were held in the Japanese city of Nagano and were the first Games to host more than 2,000 athletes. The men's ice hockey tournament was opened to professionals for the first time. Canada and the United States, with their many NHL players, were favoured to win the tournament. Neither won any hockey medals however; the Czech Republic prevailed. Women's ice hockey made its debut and the United States won the gold medal.Bjørn Dæhlie of Norway won three gold medals in Nordic skiing, becoming the most decorated Winter Olympic athlete, with eight gold medals and twelve medals overall.AustrianHermann Maier survived a crash during the downhill competition and returned to win gold in the super-g and the giant slalom.Tara Lipinski of the United States, age 15, became the youngest female gold medalist in an individual event ever when she won figure skating, a record that had stood since Sonja Henie of Norway won the same event, also at age 15, in St. Moritz in 1928. New world records were set in speed skating because of the introduction of the clap skate.
2002 to 2010
The 2002 Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City, United States, hosting 77 nations and 2,399 athletes in 78 events in 7 sports. These games were the first to take place since the September 11 attacks of 2001, which meant a higher degree of security to avoid a terrorist attack. The opening ceremonies of the games saw signs of the aftermath of the events of that day, including the flag that flew at Ground Zero, NYPD officer Daniel Rodríguez singing "God Bless America", and honour guards of NYPD and FDNY members.
GermanGeorg Hackl won a silver in the singles luge, becoming the first athlete in Olympic history to win medals in the same individual event in five consecutive Olympics.Canada achieved an unprecedented double by winning both the men's and women's ice hockey gold medals. Canada became embroiled with Russia in a controversy that involved the judging of the pairs figure skating competition. The Russian pair of Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze competed against the Canadian pair of Jamie Salé and David Pelletier for the gold medal. The Canadians appeared to have skated well enough to win the competition, yet the Russians were awarded the gold. The judging broke along Cold War lines with judges from former Communist countries favouring the Russian pair and judges from Western nations voting for the Canadians. The only exception was the French judge, Marie-Reine Le Gougne, who awarded the gold to the Russians. An investigation revealed that she had been pressured to give the gold to the Russian pair regardless of how they skated; in return the Russian judge would look favourably on the French entrants in the ice dancing competition. The IOC decided to award both pairs the gold medal in a second medal ceremony held later in the Games.AustralianSteven Bradbury became the first gold medallist from the southern hemisphere when he won the 1,000 metre short-track speed skating event.
The Italian city of Turin hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics. It was the second time that Italy had hosted the Winter Olympic Games. South Korean athletes won 10 medals, including 6 gold in the short-track speed skating events. Sun-Yu Jin won three gold medals while her teammate Hyun-Soo Ahn won three gold medals and a bronze. In the women's Cross-Country team pursuit CanadianSara Renner broke one of her poles and, when he saw her dilemma, Norwegian coach Bjørnar Håkensmoen decided to lend her a pole. In so doing she was able to help her team win a silver medal in the event at the expense of the Norwegian team, who finished fourth.Claudia Pechstein of Germany became the first speed skater to earn nine career medals. In February 2009 Pechstein tested positive for "blood manipulation" and received a two-year suspension, which she appealed. The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld her suspension but a Swiss court ruled that she could compete for a spot on the 2010 German Olympic team. This ruling was brought to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, which overturned the lower court's ruling and precluded her from competing in Vancouver.
In 2003 the IOC awarded the 2010 Winter Olympics to Vancouver, thus allowing Canada to host its second Winter Olympics. With a population of more than 2.5 million people Vancouver is the largest metropolitan area to ever host a Winter Olympic Games. Over 2,500 athletes from 82 countries participated in 86 events. The death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili in a training run on the day of the opening ceremonies resulted in the Whistler Sliding Centre changing the track layout on safety grounds.Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen won five medals in the six cross-country events on the women's programme. She finished the Olympics with three golds, a silver and a bronze. The Vancouver Games were notable for the poor performance of the Russian athletes. From their first Winter Olympics in 1956 to the 2006 games, a Soviet or Russian delegation had never been outside the top five medal-winning nations. In 2010 they finished sixth in total medals and eleventh in gold medals. PresidentDmitry Medvedev called for the resignation of top sports officials immediately after the Games. Russia's disappointing performance at Vancouver is cited as the reason behind the implementation of a doping scheme alleged to have been in operation at major events such as the 2014 Games at Sochi. The success of Asian countries stood in stark contrast to the under-performing Russian team, with Vancouver marking a high point for medals won by Asian countries. In 1992 the Asian countries had won fifteen medals, three of which were gold. In Vancouver the total number of medals won by athletes from Asia had increased to thirty-one, with eleven of them being gold. The rise of Asian nations in Winter Olympics sports is due in part to the growth of winter sports programmes and the interest in winter sports in nations such as South Korea, Japan and China.
2014 to 2018
Sochi, Russia, was selected as the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics over Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang, South Korea. This was the first time that Russia had hosted a Winter Olympics. The 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games, or the 22nd Winter Olympics, took place from 7 to 23 February 2014. A record 2,800 athletes from 88 countries competed in 98 events. The Olympic Village and Olympic Stadium were located on the Black Sea coast. All of the mountain venues were 50 kilometres (31 miles) away in the alpine region known as Krasnaya Polyana. The Games were the most expensive so far, with a cost of £30 billion (USD 51 billion).
On the snow, Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen took two golds to bring his total tally of Olympic medals to 13, overtaking his compatriot Bjørn Dæhlie to become the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time. Another Norwegian, cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen took three golds; her total of ten Olympic medals tied her as the female Winter Olympian with most medals, alongside Raisa Smetanina and Stefania Belmondo. Snowboarder Ayumu Hirano became the youngest medallist on snow at the Winter Games when he took a silver in the halfpipe competition at the age of fifteen. On ice, the Dutch dominated the speed skating events, taking 23 medals, four clean sweeps of the podium places and at least one medal in each of the twelve medal events. Ireen Wüst was their most successful competitor, taking two golds and three silvers. In figure skating, Yuzuru Hanyu became the first skater to break the 100-point barrier in the short programme on the way to winning the gold medal. Among the sledding disciplines, luger Armin Zöggeler took a bronze, becoming the first Winter Olympian to secure a medal in six consecutive Games.
Following their disappointing performance at the 2010 Games, and an investment of £600 million in elite sport, Russia initially topped the medal table, taking 33 medals including thirteen golds. However Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Russian national anti-doping laboratory, subsequently claimed that he had been involved in doping dozens of Russian competitors for the Games, and that he had been assisted by the Russian Federal Security Service in opening and re-sealing bottles containing urine samples so that samples with banned substances could be replaced with "clean" urine. A subsequent investigation commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency led by Richard McLaren concluded that a state-sponsored doping programme had operated in Russia from "at least late 2011 to 2015" across the "vast majority" of Summer and Winter Olympic sports. On 5 December 2017, the IOC announced that Russia would be banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics with immediate effect and by the end of 2017 the IOC Disciplinary Commission had disqualified 43 Russian athletes, stripping thirteen medals and knocking Russia from the top of the medal table, thus putting Norway in the lead.
On 6 July 2011, Pyeongchang, South Korea, was selected to host the 2018 Winter Olympics over Munich, Germany, and Annecy, France. This was the first time that South Korea had been selected to host a Winter Olympics and it was the second time the Olympics were held in the country overall, after the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. The 2018 Winter Olympics, officially the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, or the 23rd Winter Olympics, took place from 9 to 25 February 2018. More than 2900 athletes from 92 countries participated in 102 events. The Olympic Stadium and many of the sports venues were situated in the Alpensia Resort in Daegwallyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang, while a number of other sports venues were located in the Gangneung Olympic Park in Pyeongchang's neighboring city of Gangneung. The lead-up to the games was affected by the tensions between North and South Korea and the ongoing Russian doping scandal. Individual Russian athletes, who qualified and could demonstrate they had complied with the IOC's doping regulations, were given the option to compete neutrally in Pyeongchang as "Olympic Athletes from Russia" (OAR) but they were not allowed to compete under the Russian flag.
The host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics, officially the XXIV Olympic Winter Games, is Beijing in northern China, elected on 31 July 2015, at the 128thIOC Session in Kuala Lumpur. Beijing will be the first city ever to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics. The 2022 Winter Olympics will take place between 4 and 20 February 2022.
Main article: Olympic Games scandals and controversies § Winter Olympics
The process for awarding host city honours came under intense scrutiny after Salt Lake City had been awarded the right to host the 2002 Games. Soon after the host city had been announced it was discovered that the organisers had engaged in an elaborate bribery scheme to curry favour with IOC officials. Gifts and other financial considerations were given to those who would evaluate and vote on Salt Lake City's bid. These gifts included medical treatment for relatives, a college scholarship for one member's son and a land deal in Utah. Even IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch received two rifles valued at $2,000. Samaranch defended the gift as inconsequential since, as president, he was a non-voting member. The subsequent investigation uncovered inconsistencies in the bids for every Games (both summer and winter) since 1988. For example, the gifts received by IOC members from the Japanese Organising Committee for Nagano's bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics were described by the investigation committee as "astronomical". Although nothing strictly illegal had been done, the IOC feared that corporate sponsors would lose faith in the integrity of the process and that the Olympic brand would be tarnished to such an extent that advertisers would begin to pull their support. The investigation resulted in the expulsion of 10 IOC members and the sanctioning of another 10. New terms and age limits were established for IOC membership, and 15 former Olympic athletes were added to the committee. Stricter rules for future bids were imposed, with ceilings imposed on the value of gifts IOC members could accept from bid cities.
Host city legacy
According to the IOC, the host city is responsible for, "...establishing functions and services for all aspects of the Games, such as sports planning, venues, finance, technology, accommodation, catering, media services etc., as well as operations during the Games." Due to the cost of hosting an Olympic Games, most host cities never realise a profit on their investment. For example, the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, cost $12.5 billion. By comparison the Torino Games of 2006 cost $3.6 billion to host. The organisers claimed that the cost of extending the bullet train service from Tokyo to Nagano was responsible for the large price tag.