I’m Canadian so I have to cheer for the Canadians. And for a very brief time about four days into the Olympics, Canada was in first place in the medals. (Okay, it only lasted about 12 hours and Norway knocked us out, but it is a historical event. We’ve never been in first place in the history of the Olympics.)
You know me, I love Wikipedia, so I headed over there to check out the history of the Winter Games. This is what I found out. The Winter Olympic Games is a major international sporting event that occurs once every four years. The first Winter Olympics was held in 1924 in Chamonix, France. The original 6 sports were bobsleigh, curling, military patrol, ice hockey and Nordic skiing which consisted of the cross-country skiing, Nordic combined and ski jumping, and skating, consisting of both figure skating and speed skating. Games were held every four years from 1924 until 1936, after which they were interrupted by World War II. The Olympics resumed in1948 and was again held every four years. 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 has evolved since its inception. Sports 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 program. Others (such as curling and bobsleigh) have been discontinued and later reintroduced, or have been permanently discontinued (such as military patrol, though the modern Winter Olympic sport of biathlon is descended from it). 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 created an income stream, 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 several criticisms, 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 Games to showcase the claimed superiority of their political systems.
The Winter Olympics has been hosted on three continents by eleven different countries. The United States has hosted the Games four times (1932, 1960, 1980, 2002); France has been the host three times (1924, 1968, 1992); Austria (1964, 1976), Canada (1988, 2010), Japan (1972, 1998), Italy (1956, 2006), Norway (1952, 1994), and Switzerland (1928, 1948) have hosted the Games twice. Germany (1936), Yugoslavia (1984), and Russia (2014) have hosted the Games once. The IOC has selected Pyeongchang, South Korea, to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. No country in the southern hemisphere has hosted or even been an applicant to host the Winter Olympics; the major challenge preventing one hosting the games is the dependence on winter weather, and the traditional February timing of the games falls in the middle of the southern hemisphere summer.
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. Germany and Japan have been banned at times from competing in the Games.
People from all countries watch the Olympics. Let me know if you’re watching, who you hope for and your feelings about the Olympics.