Sapporo 1972 Winter Olympic Games

The Sapporo olympics were the first Games to be held in Asia and not in Europe or the USA. The eleventh meeting of the best winter athletes was held in Sapporo Japan in 1972.

Time and Place: Sapporo (Japan); 3 - 13 February 1972
Participation: 35 countries, 1006 athletes (801 men, 205 women)
Number of sports: 6 sports, 35 events
Number of Slovenian athletes: 23
Fire lit by: Hideki Takada (schoolboy)
Games opened by: Emperor Hirohito
Olympic oath: Keiichi Suzuki (speed skater)


Trivia from the Sapporo 1972 Winter Olympic Games

Salt Lake City, Banff and Lahti were left empty handed and the land of the rising sun took on the organization of the Games with utmost care and professionalism. Record amounts of money were invested in the construction of facilities and the surrounding areas, making the Games at the capital of industry the most expensive and luxurious to date. The games were covered by an integrated concept of television event coverage which was also one of the primary sources of revenues.


Olympic heights


Before the Olympic Games even begun, Austrian skier Karl Schranz provided the first controversy. The IOC suspended the champion due to violating the rules on amateurism and he was asked to leave the Olympic village. The then twenty three year old skier was accused of appearing in advertising in violation of IOC principles. His absence benefitted three other famous skiers, Bernhard Russi, Francisco Ochoa and Gustav Thöni. The queen of the white slopes became Swiss Marie Theres Nadig.


The issue of amateurism also created controversy in hockey. After the IOC rejected the request of Canada for the participation of players from the professional North American league - the Eastern Bloc countries did after all send their "national amateurs" to compete - the Canadian team boycotted the tournament.


For the first time in Winter Olympics history, all three ski jumping medal winners on the normal hill came from the same country. The three top athletes all came from the host nation of Japan. They were Yukio Kasaya, Akitsugu Konno and Seiji Aochi.


Of the 35 participating countries, 17 earned at least one medal. The top rung of the medals ladder was again taken over by athletes from the USSR, the foremost of whom were speed skater Vyacheslav Vedenin and cross country skier Galina Kulakova. The Netherlands had its best result yet in terms of medals won, mostly due to speed skater Art Schenk who won three of his four events.Slovenian ski jumper Danilo Pudgar set the best Winter Olympic result with his 8th place.