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The 1972 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XI Olympic Winter Games, were a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated from February 3 to February 13, 1972 in Sapporo, Hokkaidōmarker, Japanmarker. It was the first Winter Olympics to be held outside Europe and North America, and only the 3rd games (summer or winter) held outside those regions over all, after Melbournemarker (1956 Summer Olympics) and Tokyomarker (1964 Summer Olympics). Sapporo was the largest city to host a Winter Games at the time.

Host selection

Sapporo first won the rights to host the 1940 Winter Olympics, but Japan resigned as the Games' host after its 1937 invasion of China. The 1940 Games were later cancelled. All the cities awarded Games that were cancelled due to war have since hosted the Games (Berlin, London, Tokyo, Helsinki, and Sapporo).

Sapporo competed with Banff, Albertamarker, Canadamarker; Lahtimarker, Finlandmarker; and Salt Lake City, Utahmarker, United Statesmarker. The Games were awarded at the 64th IOC Session in Romemarker, Italymarker, on April 26, 1966. With the 1972 Games, the organizers of the Sapporo Games turned a healthy profit in part because they arranged a record $8.47 million for broadcast rights.

The chart's information below comes from the International Olympic Committee Vote History web page.

1972 Winter Olympics Bidding Results
City NOC Name Round 1
Sapporo 32
Banff, Albertamarker 16
Lahtimarker 7
Salt Lake City, Utahmarker 7


  • Prior to these games, Japan had never won a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. The host country shone in Sapporo when three Japanese athletes, led by Yukio Kasaya, swept the ski jumping 70m (current K-90 normal hill) event for gold (Kasaya), silver (Akitsugu Konno), and bronze (Seiji Aochi).
  • Galina Kulakova of the USSR won all three cross-country skiing events for women.
  • Dutch skater Ard Schenk won three gold medals in speed skating.
  • In Alpine skiing, virtual unknown Swiss Marie-Thérès Nadig won both the downhill and the giant slalom events.
  • Magnar Solberg from Norway was the first repeat winner in the individual 20 km biathlon event, having first won in Grenoble.
  • Spain scored its first Winter gold medal courtesy of slalom skier Francisco Fernandez Ochoa.
  • American speedskaters Anne Henning and Diane Holum made the US's best showing in the Winter Games, winning two gold, a silver, and a bronze.
  • Three days before the Games, controversy over amateur status arose when IOC president Avery Brundage threatened to disqualify 40 alpine skiiers who received endorsement and other deals. Austrian skier Karl Schranz, who received over $50,000 per year from ski manufacturers, was banned as an example. Meanwhile, Canada refused to send an ice hockey team, maintaining that professional ice hockey players from Communist nations were allowed to compete with no restrictions.
  • On a historical note, these Games are the last where a skier won the gold medal using all-wooden skis. Since this time, top-level cross-country skiiers use skis made mostly of fibreglass synthetics.
  • In female Figure skating event, American skater Janet Lynn has won not only a bronze medal, but so tremendous popularity among Japanese audiences despite her marginal-at-best performances, as to make appearance on the cover of "Olympic Winter Games, Sapporo 1972" photo books published in Japan, and even on Japanese TV commercials later.


¹ New facilities constructed in preparation for the Olympic Games. ² Existing facilities modified or refurbished in preparation for the Olympic Games.

Medals awarded

See the medal winners, ordered by sport:

Participating nations

35 nations participated in the 1972 Winter Olympics. The Republic of China and The Philippines participated in their first Winter Olympic Games.
  • (host)

Medal count

These are the top ten nations that won medals at these Games. The host nation Japan finished 11th.
1 8 5 3 16
2 4 3 3 10
3 4 3 2 9
4 3 4 7 14
5 3 2 3 8
6 3 1 1 5
7 2 5 5 12
8 2 2 1 5
9 1 2 2 5
10 1 1 2 4

See also


External links

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