The History of the Winter Olympic Games

The History of the Winter Olympic Games


The first Winter Olympic Games started in 1901. It was originally called the “Nordic Games.” First held in Sweden, the games were organized by Viktor Gustaf Balck. Three years later, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), under the leadership of Italian count Eugenio Brunetta d’Usseaux, proposed the staging of the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm. However, the IOC members opposed the proposal due to the lack of facilities for winter sporting events. In 1920, the Antwerp Winter Olympic Games was held after the First World War. After the IOC Congress in 1921, the committee chose France to host the 1924 Winter Olympics.

During the Second World War, the IOC postponed the 1940 Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan. The IOC’s decision in postponing the said event led to its withdrawal in 1938 after the invasion of Japanese forces in China. In 1939, the games were moved from Sapporo to Garmisch-Partenkirchen City in Germany. However, due to the German Invasion in Poland, the IOC again cancelled the games in the city. The 1944 Winter Games in Italy were also cancelled.

After the World War II years, the IOC decided to continue the celebration of the Winter Olympics. The committee chose the Norwegian capital Oslo to host the 1952 Winter Games. The event pioneered the lighting of the “Winter Olympic Flame” which was originally designed by home skiing professional Sondre Nordheim. The lighting was spearheaded by Olympic medalists Hjalmar Andersen of Norway and Chiharu Igaya of Japan. The 1956 Olympics in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy became the most-talked about Olympic event after torch bearer Guido Caroli suffered from an accident while lighting the Olympic flame. The 1960 Winter Games were held in Squaw Valley, a remote village in the US. The opening and closing ceremonies of the 1960 games were produced by Walt Disney. Since then, the IOC has been frequently offering North American and some Asian countries to host the Winter Olympics.

In 2003, Canada accepted IOC’s offer to host the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. However, the event stirred controversies after lack of safety measures were found in most of its facilities, including the Olympic track which caused the death of one of its participants, a Gregorian luger named Nodar Kuramitashvili. In July 2007, the IOC chose Sochi City, Russia to host the 2014 Winter Olympics games. The host city for the 2018 Winter Games is not yet determined by the IOC for now.



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