1972 Winter Olympics
The 1972 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XI Olympic Winter Games, were a winter multi-sport event
Multi-sport event
A multi-sport event is an organized sporting event, often held over multiple days, featuring competition in many different sports between organized teams of athletes from nation-states. The first major, modern, multi-sport event of international significance was the modern Olympic Games.Many...

 which was celebrated from February 3 to February 13, 1972 in Sapporo, Hokkaidō
, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel...

, Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. 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 Melbourne (1956 Summer Olympics
1956 Summer Olympics
The 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVI Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was held in Melbourne, Australia, in 1956, with the exception of the equestrian events, which could not be held in Australia due to quarantine regulations...

) and Tokyo (1964 Summer Olympics
1964 Summer Olympics
The 1964 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVIII Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event held in Tokyo, Japan in 1964. Tokyo had been awarded with the organization of the 1940 Summer Olympics, but this honor was subsequently passed to Helsinki because of Japan's...

). Sapporo was the largest city to have held any Winter Games at the time.

Host city selection

Sapporo first won the rights to host the 1940 Winter Olympics
1940 Winter Olympics
The anticipated 1940 Winter Olympics, which would have been officially known as the V Olympic Winter Games, were to be celebrated in 1940 in Sapporo, Japan.The games were cancelled due to the onset of World War II...

, but Japan resigned as the Games' host after its 1937 invasion of China
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

. 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, Sapporo and Cortina d'Ampezzo).

Sapporo competed with Banff, Lahti, and Salt Lake City. The Games were awarded at the 64th IOC Session in Rome, Italy, 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.
1972 Winter Olympics bidding result
City Country Round 1
Sapporo   Japan 32
Banff, Alberta
Banff is a town within Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. It is located in Alberta's Rockies along the Trans-Canada Highway, approximately west of Calgary and east of Lake Louise....

 Canada 16
Lahti is a city and municipality in Finland.Lahti is the capital of the Päijänne Tavastia region. It is situated on a bay at the southern end of lake Vesijärvi about north-east of the capital Helsinki...

 Finland 7
Salt Lake City   United States 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
    Yukio Kasaya
    Yukio Kasaya is a former Japanese ski jumper. He was one of the most successful ski jumpers of the late 1960s and the early 1970s. At the 1970 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships at Vysoké Tatry, Czechoslovakia, he finished 2nd in the individual normal hill behind Gariy Napalkov...

    , swept the ski jumping
    Ski jumping
    Ski jumping is a sport in which skiers go down a take-off ramp, jump and attempt to land as far as possible down the hill below. In addition to the length of the jump, judges give points for style. The skis used for ski jumping are wide and long...

     70m (current K-90 normal hill) event for gold (Kasaya), silver (Akitsugu Konno
    Akitsugu Konno
    is a former Japanese ski jumper who competed in the early 1970s. His best finish was a Silver Medal in the Individual Normal Hill at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo.-External links:...

    ), and bronze (Seiji Aochi).
  • Galina Kulakova
    Galina Kulakova
    Galina Alexeyevna Kulakova is a female Soviet former cross country skier, arguably the best skier on distances shorter than 10 km in the early 1970s. Kulakova trained at Trud Voluntary Sports Society...

     of the USSR won all three cross-country skiing events for women.
  • Dutch skater Ard Schenk
    Ard Schenk
    Adrianus "Ard" Schenk is a former speed skater from the Netherlands, who is considered to be one of the best in history. His first Olympic success came in 1968, when he won a silver medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics. Between 1970 and 1972 Winter Olympics, Schenk won three consecutive World...

     won three gold medals in speed skating.
  • In Alpine skiing, virtual unknown Swiss Marie-Thérès Nadig
    Marie-Theres Nadig
    Marie-Theres Nadig is a former Swiss alpine skier. As a 17-year old, she won Gold in the Downhill and Giant Slalom at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo....

     won both the downhill and the giant slalom events.
  • Magnar Solberg
    Magnar Solberg
    Magnar Solberg is a former Norwegian biathlete and police officer. He won a gold medal in the 20 km at the Winter Olympic Games 1968 in Grenoble, and he retained his gold medal at the Winter Olympic Games 1972 in Sapporo. In 1968 he was awarded Morgenbladets Gullmedalje...

     from Norway was the first repeat winner in the individual 20 km biathlon event, having first won in Grenoble
    1968 Winter Olympics
    The 1968 Winter Olympics, officially known as the X Olympic Winter Games, were a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in 1968 in Grenoble, France and opened on 6 February. Thirty-seven countries participated...

  • Spain scored its first Winter gold medal courtesy of slalom skier Francisco Fernandez Ochoa.
  • American speedskaters Anne Henning
    Anne Henning
    Anne Elizabeth Henning is a former speed skater from the United States.Anne Henning grew up in Northbrook, Illinois and started in short track speed skating, but then, like many short track speed skaters before and after her, switched to long track speed skating...

     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
    Avery Brundage
    Avery Brundage was an American amateur athlete, sports official, art collector, and philanthropist. Brundage competed in the 1912 Olympics and was the US national all-around athlete in 1914, 1916 and 1918...

     threatened to disqualify 40 alpine skiiers who received endorsement and other deals. Austrian skier Karl Schranz
    Karl Schranz
    Karl Schranz is a former champion alpine ski racer, one of the best in the 1960s.During his lengthy career , Schranz won twenty major downhills, many major giant slalom races and several major slaloms...

    , 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
    Figure skating at the 1972 Winter Olympics
    Figure skating was contested at the 1972 Winter Olympic Games . The competition took place at the Makomanai Indoor Skating Rink.Results of both the men's and ladies' singles events were dominated by placements in the compulsory figures, which at this time were nominally worth 50% of the total...

     event, American skater Janet Lynn
    Janet Lynn
    Janet Lynn Nowicki is an American figure skater and Olympic bronze medalist.-Amateur career:Lynn began to skate almost as soon as she could walk and took part in her first exhibition performance at the age of four in a group number at Chicago Stadium...

     won not only a bronze medal, but also tremendous popularity among Japanese audiences because of her artistic free program, 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.
  • Luge had its only tie in the history of the Winter Olympics in the men's doubles event.


  • City venues
    • Makomanai Park
      • Makomanai Speed Skating Rink
        Makomanai Open Stadium
        The Makomanai Open Stadium is a football stadium in Sapporo, Japan. During the 1972 Winter Olympics, it hosted the opening and closing ceremonies and the speed skating events. The stadium holds 30,000 people.-External links:*...

        ¹ – opening ceremonies, speed skating
      • Makomanai Ice Arena¹ – ice hockey, figure skating, closing ceremonies
      • Olympic village¹
      • Press center¹
    • Mikaho Indoor Skating Rink
      Nishi-ku, Sapporo
      Nishi is a ward of Sapporo composed of residential neighborhoods mostly arranged in grid patterns, with some areas of farmland and forested mountainous terrain mostly near its western and southern edges. It is located the west part of Sapporo city and the second largest of Sapporo's 10 wards...

      ¹ – figure skating
    • Tsukisamu Indoor Skating Rink
      Tsukisamu Green Dome
      Tsukisamu Green Dome is an indoor sporting arena located in Sapporo, Japan. The capacity of the arena is 5,000. It hosted some of the ice hockey event at the 1972 Winter Olympics.-External links:*...

      ¹ – ice hockey
    • Makomanai Cross-Country Events Site
      Minami-ku, Sapporo
      is one of the 10 wards in Sapporo, Hokkaidō, Japan. Minami-ku is directly translated as "south ward". Having the area of 657.23 km² in total, Minami-ku occupies 60 percent of the area of Sapporo.- Overview :...

      ¹ – cross-country skiing, Nordic combined (cross-country skiing)
    • Makomanai Biathlon Site
      Minami-ku, Sapporo
      is one of the 10 wards in Sapporo, Hokkaidō, Japan. Minami-ku is directly translated as "south ward". Having the area of 657.23 km² in total, Minami-ku occupies 60 percent of the area of Sapporo.- Overview :...

      ¹ – biathlon
  • Mountain venues
    • Mt. Teine Alpine Skiing courses
      Teine-ku, Sapporo
      is one of the 10 wards in Sapporo, Hokkaidō, Japan. The ward is located in northwest of Sapporo, which is neighboured to three other wards in Sapporo and two cities...

      ¹ – alpine skiing (slalom, giant slalom)
    • Mt. Teine Bobsleigh Course
      Teine-ku, Sapporo
      is one of the 10 wards in Sapporo, Hokkaidō, Japan. The ward is located in northwest of Sapporo, which is neighboured to three other wards in Sapporo and two cities...

       – bobsleigh
    • Mt. Teine Luge Course
      Teine-ku, Sapporo
      is one of the 10 wards in Sapporo, Hokkaidō, Japan. The ward is located in northwest of Sapporo, which is neighboured to three other wards in Sapporo and two cities...

       – luge
    • Okurayama Jump Hill
      Mt. Okura Ski Jump Stadium
      The , also known as the is a ski jumping venue located in the Miyanomori area in Chūō-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaidō, Japan. Owned mostly by Sapporo City, the ski jump is placed on the eastern slope of the Mt. Okura. The stadium has hosted a number of winter sports events including 1972 Winter Olympics and...

      ² – ski jumping (large hill)
    • Miyanomori Jump Hill
      Chūō-ku, Sapporo
      is one of the ten wards in Sapporo city, Japan. Chūō-ku means "central ward" in Japanese. As its name suggests, city administration and entertainment facilities are centred in this ward.- History :...

      ¹ – Nordic combined (ski jumping), ski jumping (normal hill)
    • Mount Eniwa Downhill Course
      Mount Eniwa
      is an active volcano located in Shikotsu-Toya National Park in Hokkaidō, Japan. It sits opposite Mount Tarumae and Mount Fuppushi on the shores of Lake Shikotsu, the caldera lake that spawned the volcanoes. Mount Eniwa is the tallest of the three volcanoes....

      ¹ – alpine skiing (downhill)

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

Participating nations

35 nations participated in the 1972 Winter Olympics. The Republic of China and The Philippines participated in their first Winter Olympic Games.>

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 7 14
3 4 3 3 10
4 4 3 2 9
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
11 1 1 1 3

External links

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