2018 Olympic Winter Games - A Brief History2018-02-06
Starting this week, the world will look to PyeongChang for the XXIII Olympic Winter Games. According to the International Olympic Committee, PyeongChang’s plan is one of the most compact in Olympic history and offers a unique stage on which the world’s best athletes can achieve superior performances.
Held in Chamonix, France in 1924, the first Olympic Winter Games consisted of five original sports, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, Nordic skiing and skating. Dr. David Lunt, Professor of History at Southern Utah University and expert on athletics in ancient Greece, says the first games were intended to be a ‘week of winter sports’ connected to the regular Olympic festival to be held later that year in Paris.
“Although Great Britain’s representative to the International Olympic Committee wanted soccer (football) to be included as a ‘winter sport’, the program was confined largely to events on snow and ice.”
The Games have grown significantly since 1924. Now, the 2018 Winter Games will feature 102 events with 15 sports represented, more than any other previous Winter Games. Dr. Lunt agrees that the Winter Olympics are growing more popular and more equal for athletes, but the event is still smaller compared to the Summer Games.
“At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, 88 countries sent a total of 2,876 athletes, of which 40% were women. In contrast, more than 11,000 athletes from 207 countries and one “refugee team”, competed in Rio de Janeiro in 2016’s Summer Games. Of these 11,000 athletes, approximately 45% were women.”
Dr. Lunt also notes that while the Winter Games are enjoyed by many spectators, fewer cities seem willing to host the games. Hosting the Games is a major undertaking, strain on infrastructure, security risks, and the total cost of the Games can make cities hesitant to bid.
“In 2015, Beijing, China beat out Almaty, Kazakhstan for the 2022 Winter Games only after other contending cities in Sweden, Norway, Poland, and Ukraine voluntarily withdrew their bids.”
As the Games continue to grow and adapt they are building partnerships around the world. In the next 10 years alone the Games will take viewers to Tokyo, Beijing, Paris and Los Angeles.
Dr. Lunt’s research has taken him all over Greece and Italy focusing on how ancient and modern athletics reflect and interact with society, religion, and culture. He is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit his profile.