The Olympic Winter Games' foundation and evolution / by Annette R. Hofmann

Hofmann, Annette R.

Edited by The Olympic Studies Centre - 2024

Since 1924 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has held the Olympic Winter Games, which are smaller in size than the Summer Games. Usually around 3,000 athletes participate. With the exception of Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998 the Winter Olympics were predominantly organised in European countries and occasionally in North America. Only since the XXII Olympic Winter Games 2014, have Russia and Asian countries also provided host cities. Whereas at the first Olympic Winter Games five percent of the participating athletes were women, the number has risen over the decades to 45 percent at the last Winter Games in Beijing in 2022. It was a long and not always easy journey for female athletes to gain both entrance and acceptance, as will be shown in chosen cases. The article provides an overview on the foundation, development, changes and major challenges of the Olympic Winter Games as well as the addition of new disciplines. Baron Pierre de Coubertin`s initial resistance and the IOC`s biased position on their implementation are mentioned. Later IOC presidents as well were not always approbative. One reason was the amateur controversy. Since amateurism was one of the main Olympic ideals until the 1980s, the IOC considered it to be threatened, especially due to the commercialisation of skiing and of other winter sports. Each of the twenty-four Olympic Winter Games that have been held until today has its individual history, scandals and highlights in sport but also connected to a number of national and international issues that were not always related only to sports. It is not possible to go into detail of each of the Games; thus, in the following an overview on the Winter Olympics shall be given with chosen examples.

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