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XI Olympic Winter Games
1972 wolympics logo.png
The emblem comprises the Rising Sun of Japan; a snowflake, a symbol of winter; and the Olympic rings with “Sapporo ’72” underneath.
Host city Sapporo, Japan
Nations participating 35
Athletes participating 1006 (801 men, 205 women)
Events 35 in 6 sports
Opening ceremony February 3
Closing ceremony February 13
Officially opened by HIM Emperor Showa
Athlete's Oath Keiichi Suzuki
Judge's Oath Fumio Asaki
Olympic Torch Hideki Takada
Stadium Makomanai Open Stadium

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, Hokkaidō, Japan. 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) and Tokyo (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, Alberta, Canada; Lahti, Finland; and Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. 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.[1]

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  Japan 32
Banff, Alberta  Canada 16
Lahti  Finland 7
Salt Lake City, Utah  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, 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.[2]
  • 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.[1]
  • 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.[3]
  • 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.[4]
  • In female Figure skating event, American skater Janet Lynn 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.


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.

Medal count

These are the top ten nations that won medals at these Games. The host nation Japan finished 11th.

 Rank  Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Soviet Union 8 5 3 16
2 East Germany 4 3 7 14
3 Switzerland 4 3 3 10
4 Netherlands 4 3 2 9
5 United States 3 2 3 8
6 West Germany 3 1 1 5
7 Norway 2 5 5 12
8 Italy 2 2 1 5
9 Austria 1 2 2 5
10 Sweden 1 1 2 4

See also



External links

Preceded by
Winter Olympics

XI Olympic Winter Games (1972)
Succeeded by

Simple English

The 1972 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XI Olympic Winter Games, were celebrated in 1972 in Sapporo, Japan. It was the first Winter Olympics to be held outside Western Europe and the United States, and only the 3rd Games (Summer or Winter) held outside these regions, after Tokyo and Mexico City. The city won the rights to the games in 1966.

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Olympic Games
Summer Games: 1896, 1900, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1912, (1916), 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936, (1940), (1944), 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024, 2028
Winter Games: 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936, (1940), (1944), 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, 2022
Athens 2004Turin 2006Beijing 2008Vancouver 2010London 2012Sochi 2014Rio 2016

Games in italics will be held in the future, and those in (brackets) were cancelled because of war. See also: Ancient Olympic Games

Youth Olympic Games
Summer Games:2010, 2014, 2018
Winter Games:2012, 2016
Singapore 2010Innsbruck 2012Nanjing 2014


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