The Winter Olympic games made their way to the Balkans for the first time in history. Sarajevo made a successful bid for the Olympics in 1978 and hosted the best winter athletes of the world between the 8th and 19th February 1984.
Time and Place: Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina, SFRY) 8 - 19 February 1984
Participation: 49 countries, 1272 athletes (998 men, 274 women)
Number of sports: 6 sports, 49 events
Number of Slovenian athletes: 52
Fire lit by: Sandra Dubravčić (figure skater)
Games opened by: Mika Špiljak
Olympic oath: Bojan Križaj (alpine skier)
Trivia from the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympic Games
The people of Sarajevo welcomed athletes from 49 countries with open arms, including representatives of exotic countries like Egypt, Puerto Rico, Senegal and Virgin islands. The host showed plenty of resolve and imagination in preparing the venues and the weather played a large part in scheduling events at the only Winter Olympics in the Balkans. Their improvisation skills were perhaps best showcased by the fact that they built an elevated start ramp for the downhill track in order to achieve the required 800 m altitude difference between the start and the finish.
Just a decade after the Games, the Olympic facilities were in flames as the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina became one of the focuses of the bloody war in former Yugoslavia. Yet good memories remain of the February in 1984 which represents a golden chapter in Slovenian sports history. Slovenians were the most successful link in the Yugoslavian team. Alpine skier Bojan Križaj made the Olympic oath in the Slovenian language in the name of all participating athletes and his colleague Jure Franko won the first Winter Olympic medal for Yugoslavia and Slovenian sport.
At the Sarajevo Olympics the International Olympic Committee covered the costs for one male and one female competitor from each country for the first time.
The Games were dominated by athletes from the German Democratic Republic but there were also some notable individuals, namely the Finnish cross country skier Marja-Lisa Hämäläinen, German speed skater Karin Enke and Swedish cross country skier Gunde Svan.
The Games had their share of exceptional stories. A special chapter was written by the figure skaters. The fans were enchanted by Katarina Witt and the bolero performance of Brits Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean elevated the sport to another level. A particularly interesting story took place in slalom where the first two places were won by American twins Phil and Steve Mahre. The ski jumping events were the stage for an epic battle between Matti Nykänen and Jens Weissflog, the ice rink was taken over by the Soviet Union hockey team and the entire bobsled competition was dressed in German colors.