1972 Winter Olympics

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XI. winter Olympics
Logo of the 1972 Winter Olympics
Venue: Sapporo ( Japan )
Stadion: Makomanai Stadium
opening ceremony: February 3, 1972
Closing Ceremony: February 13, 1972
Opened by: Emperor Hirohito
Olympic Oath : Keiichi Suzuki (Athlete)
Fumio Asaki (Referee)
Disciplines: 10 (6 sports)
competitions: 35
Countries: 35
athletes: 1008, including 206 women
Grenoble 1968
Innsbruck 1976

The 1972 Winter Olympics (also called the XI Winter Olympics ; Japanese 第11回オリンピック冬季競技大会, Daijūikkai orinpikku tōkikyōgitaika ) were held in Sapporo , the capital of the northernmost Japanese prefecture , from February 3rd to 13th, 1972 . For the first time in the history of the Winter Olympics , they were held in a city with a population of more than one million. It was also the first time they were held outside of Europe or North America . Sapporo won the 1940 Winter Gamesreceived, but could not perform because of the Pacific War . The 1972 Winter Games were the second Olympic Games in Japan and Asia , respectively , after the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo . All sports facilities have been newly constructed or remodeled for this event. With one exception, they were located less than 15 km from the city center.

The competitions took place in 35 disciplines, in which 1008 athletes from 35 countries competed, including 206 women. The most successful athletes were the Soviet cross-country skier Galina Kulakova and the Dutch speed skater Ard Schenk , each with three gold medals. The most successful delegation was that of the Soviet Union . The second most successful nation, the GDR , had already provided a separate team from the Federal Republic of Germany in 1968 , but appeared for the first time with its own flag and national anthem. Switzerland experienced the "golden days of Sapporo" and was more successful than ever. In Austria , the exclusion of ski racer Karl Schranz for violating the amateur statute caused great outrage.

medal table
place country G S B total
1 Soviet Union 1955 Soviet Union 8th 5 3 16
2 Germany Democratic Republic 1949 GDR 4 3 7 14
3 Switzerland Switzerland 4 3 3 10
4 Netherlands Netherlands 4 3 2 9
5 United States United States 3 2 3 8th
6 Germany BR Federal Republic of Germany 3 1 1 5
7 Norway Norway 2 5 5 12
8th Italy Italy 2 2 1 5
9 Austria Austria 1 2 2 5
10 Sweden Sweden 1 1 2 4
Complete medal table

Choice of Venue

The winter games in Sapporo had a lead time of more than three decades. At the 35th session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on July 31, 1936 in Berlin , the 1940 Summer Olympics were awarded to Tokyo . The Japanese government expressed the desire to hold the 1940 Winter Games as well . Since there were no other candidates, Sapporo was unanimously accepted on June 9, 1937 at the 36th session in Warsaw . A month later, the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out, making organization difficult. At the end of 1937 the government decided to dissolve the organizing committee for Sapporo and to affiliate it with that for Tokyo. The Winter Games were to take place from February 3 to 14, 1940.

At the 37th Session in Cairo in March 1938, the IOC considered a motion by the absent Chinese member Wang Zhengting . He called for the Games to be withdrawn from Japan due to the ongoing war. Although the IOC stuck to the venues, President Henri de Baillet-Latour prepared steps in the background that should allow a voluntary return in the face of growing internal Japanese criticism. After the war-related austerity policy had already led to the cancellation of the planned world exhibition , the government finally withdrew its support for the organizing committee on July 14, 1938. The IOC awarded the 1940 Winter Games to St. Moritz two and a half months later . Since a dispute broke out about the admission of ski instructors to the alpine ski races, the Swiss Olympic Committee was not prepared to support the staging. In a secret ballot, the IOC then awarded the Winter Games to Garmisch-Partenkirchen . With the outbreak of the Second World War , these had to be canceled for good.

location country voices
Sapporo Japan 1870 Japan 32
Banff Canada Canada 16
lahti Finland Finland 07
Salt Lake City United States United States 07

Encouraged by the awarding of the 1964 Summer Olympics to Tokyo in May 1959, an “Invitation Committee” was formed under the direction of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) that was also to bring the 1968 Winter Games to Japan. After field studies and surveys at sports federations, Sapporo prevailed against seven other cities. The government pledged its support, whereupon the JOC submitted an official candidacy to the IOC in February 1963. At the 62nd IOC session in Innsbruck on January 29, 1964, Sapporo had no chance. The city received only six votes in the first ballot, making it the fourth-best of six candidatures; Grenoble was awarded the contract .

Sapporo's city parliament then examined all aspects of the failed candidacy and approved another one for 1972. Central to the intensified efforts was maintaining relationships with decision-makers in the Olympic Movement - particularly in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South America. This included visits to international sporting events and invitations to Sapporo. During the 1964 Summer Games, 24 IOC members visited the city. In addition, companies and independent groups offered their support. Mayor Yosaku Harada officially submitted the candidacy at the 64th IOC session in Madrid on October 6, 1965. The decision was made on April 26, 1966 at the 65th session in Rome : Sapporo received the majority of the votes cast in the first ballot, ahead of Banff , Lahti and Salt Lake City .

organization and preparation

organizing committee

The organizing committee was formed on July 26, 1966, consisting of the committee board, management and the general secretariat. From October 1, 1966, it had the legal form of a charitable foundation. The General Secretariat had nine main departments, responsible for sports facilities, other facilities, design, technology, traffic and transport, medicine and hygiene, press and ceremonies. President of the organizing committee was Kōgorō Uemura, then Vice-President (and President from 1968) of the business umbrella organization Nippon Keidanren . The number of employees grew steadily and reached its peak in February 1972 with 392 people. These were mostly state, prefectural and municipal officials who had been assigned for this purpose. Supporting personnel came from the ranks of the Self-Defense Forces , the Prefectural Police and the Fire Department. Together with temporary employees from the private sector, this resulted in a workforce of 16,373.

Parliament passed legislation in July 1967 allowing subsidies from the Treasury and free use of state property. A "preparatory council" took over the coordination between those administrative departments that fulfilled supporting tasks with organization and planning. The council reported directly to the prime minister and was composed of several deputy ministers. In addition, a minister of state for Olympic affairs coordinated cooperation between the parliament, government departments, the prefectural administration and the city of Sapporo. Michita Sakata held this function from December 1968 to January 1970, followed by Shin'ichi Nishida until July 1971, and finally by Motosaburo Tokai until opening.


Direct expenditure was 17.305 billion yen (equivalent to 158.981 million euros in September 2018). Administrative costs accounted for ¥8.108 billion (€74.5 million) and construction of sports facilities for ¥9.197 billion (€83.9 million). Of the latter sum, the Japanese government contributed ¥4.386 billion (€40.3 million), the city of Sapporo ¥3.096 billion (€28.4 million) and the organizing committee ¥1.715 billion (€15.8 million). . The administrative costs related to the organization of the Winter Games were financed as follows: subsidies from the state, prefecture and city (¥2.95 billion or €27.1 million), financial contributions from private companies and the Sports Fund (¥2.228 billion ¥ or €20.5 million), income from television rights (¥1.491 billion or €13.7 million) and ticket sales (¥706 million or €6.5 million), as well as film distribution, loans and real estate liquidation (combined ¥616 million or €5.7 million). Various other sources of money accounted for the remainder.

In addition to spending related to the organization, government infrastructure investments totaled 201.74 billion yen (equivalent to 1.920 billion euros in September 2018). The expansion of the road network alone accounted for ¥85 billion (€781 million). The subway construction cost 42.6 billion (€ 391.4 million) and the pre-financing of the expansion of the hotel offer came to 13.14 billion (€ 120.7 million). Other items of expenditure included an underground shopping arcade in the downtown area, the construction of the Olympic Village and a new city hall, and the expansion of the Sapporo airport and railway station .


The state, prefecture and city worked closely with the organizing committee to modernize the road infrastructure. 41 roads totaling 213 km were built, widened, resurfaced or otherwise improved to connect the sports venues, the Olympic Village and the city's key points. Notably, this included the Sasson Highway towards Otaru , the first highway on Hokkaidō. On December 15, 1971, the first 12.6 km long section of the Sapporo subway went into operation. Thus, Sapporo was the fourth Japanese city to have a subway , after Tokyo , Osaka , and Nagoya . In addition, Chitose Airport and its runways have been modernized and expanded, while Okadama Regional Airport has received minor improvements. Between January 10 and February 17, 1972, the transport service set up for the Winter Games used over 14,700 vehicles to bring athletes, officials, journalists, invited guests, employees, spectators and material to their destinations. Among them were around 6900 cars, 2800 minibuses, 3100 coaches and 200 trucks.

Pre-Olympic competitions

The "International Winter Sports Week" took place from February 6th to 14th, 1971, in order to test the functionality of the new sports facilities in a kind of dress rehearsal and to optimize the processes. 1427 athletes, including 364 from abroad, took part. 34 disciplines were on the program, compared to the Winter Games only the pair skating of the figure skaters was missing. Several Japanese winter sports federations, which had previously had no previous experience in organizing international sports events, were able to gain valuable experience. Also tested were data processing and newly developed electronic timing systems from Seiko .

torch relay

On December 28, 1971, the Olympic torch was lit in the ruins of ancient Olympia . Via Athens she first arrived by plane to Naha on Okinawa . On New Year's Day 1972, they were flown to Tokyo's Haneda Airport and carried to the National Stadium , where the Emperor's Cup final was taking place. It continued to Nirasaki , where the flame was divided and two routes through northern Honshū began. The eastern passed through Maebashi , Utsunomiya , Fukushima , Sendai , and Hachinohe , the western through Matsumoto , Nagano , Niigata , Yamagata , and Akita , until they reunited at Aomori . The flame was shipped to Hakodate on the southern tip of Hokkaidō and from there three different routes through all regions of the island to the venue. In Sapporo on January 30, the three flames were carried to central Ōdōri Park , where they were reunited and ignited in a bowl. On the opening day, the last runners carried the torch to the stadium. The route was 18,749.8 km in total; of which 4828.8 km were running routes. 16,300 runners aged 11 to 20 wore uniform clothing and carried the torch designed by Munemichi Yanagi .

visual appearance

Eight graphic designers designed the official logo . The choice fell on Kazumasa Nagai 's design , which consists of three elements. The red circle corresponds to the rising sun of the flag of Japan . A snowflake, shaped like a mon symbol , represents winter. They are complemented by the Olympic rings and the lettering SAPPORO'72 . Two groups of pictograms showed visitors the way or appeared on official publications. Yoshiro Yamashita designed those for the sports, while the facility and facility symbols are by Shigeo Fukuda and are adaptations of his works for Osaka Expo '70 .

In 1971 and 1972, the Japan Post Office issued five commemorative stamps with Olympic motifs. A total of 300 stamps relating to the Winter Games were issued in 42 countries around the world. Four official posters , designed by renowned graphic artists and printed in a print run of 30,000 to 40,000 each, advertised the Winter Games. The first, from 1968, with a mountain motif, is by Takashi Kōno . In 1969 and 1970, Yūsaku Kamekura designed two posters with a downhill skier and a figure skater, respectively. The finale was a poster by Gan Hosoya in 1971 with the lettering Sapporo 1972 .

Five short documentaries in English and Japanese drew attention to Sapporo and the Winter Games and informed cinema-goers about the status of preparations. Before and during the event, director Masahiro Shinoda shot an official documentary in 35mm cinema format on behalf of the IOC . Sapporo Winter Olympics (jap.札幌オリンピック, Sapporo Orinpikku ) was released in a two-hour English version and in a 40-minute longer Japanese version.

Olympic locations

sports facilities

View of the Teine

All sports facilities had to be rebuilt or rebuilt. They were all less than 15 km from the city center, with the exception of the slopes at Eniwa volcano in the territory of the neighboring town of Chitose . Construction work began in the second half of 1967 and was completed in February 1971. Most of the systems are concentrated on the 1023 m high local mountain Teine in the west and on the southern district of Makomanai.

The main site was Makomanai Park , at the confluence of the Makomanai and Toyohira Rivers . In the center of the park is Makomanai Stadium , the venue for the speed skating competitions and the opening ceremony . The Makomanai Indoor Stadium , in the north-east corner of the park, hosted two-thirds of the ice hockey games , the figure skating deciders , and the closing ceremonies. In the immediate vicinity of the park were the Olympic Village , the press center and the offices of the organizing committees. The temporary cross-country skiing stadium was built in the Nishioka Valley east of the Olympic Village . The biathlon races were held on a military training area to the south .

Four alpine ski races were staged in the upper area of ​​the Sapporo Teine ski resort , on the north slope of the eponymous mountain. In order to be able to create three slopes for the giant slaloms and slaloms , clearing and the removal of 12,000 m³ of rock were necessary. Likewise, three mountain railways and three temporary finish stadiums had to be built. In the lower area, two tracks were built for the bobsleigh and toboggan competitions . The bobsled track was the very first in Japan.

The difference in altitude on the Teine was too small for the alpine downhill races. Although it would have been possible to use distant winter sports areas such as Furano or Niseko , the organizing committee prioritized the geographical compactness of the sports venues and short distances over environmental protection. Despite a petition from conservationists to the IOC President, it designated the Eniwa volcano as its site , just south of the city limits on Lake Shikotsu in Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Two aisles with a total area of ​​29 hectares had to be cleared. Two mountain railways and temporary buildings were also built. After all, the state undertook to reforest the aisles.

The Kotoni Valley west of the city center is the location of two ski jumps . The Ōkurayama ski jump ( K-point 110 m) was built in 1931 according to the plans of the Norwegian Olaf Helset , but no longer met the requirements and had to be rebuilt and was given grandstands with a capacity of 50,000 spectators. There was not enough space for a second jump here. Therefore, about 1.5 km away, the Miyanomori ski jump (K point 70 m) with space for 20,000 spectators was set up. Two smaller ice rinks were built north and south-east of downtown, the Mikaho Gymnasium for the compulsory figure skater program and the Tsukisamu Gymnasium for ten ice hockey games. The Fujino toboggan run was also available to the lugers as a training opportunity and alternative location.

# factory sport Map of Sapporo
A Teine toboggan run tobogganing location map
B Teine bob run Bobsledding
C Giant slalom slope at Teine (men) Alpine skiing
D Giant slalom slope on the Teine (women)
E Slalom slope on the Teine
f Ōkurayama ski jump ski jumping
G Miyanomori ski jump Ski Jumping, Nordic Combined
H Mikaho Gymnasium figure skating
I Tsukisamu Gymnasium ice Hockey
J Makomanai Indoor Stadium Ice hockey, figure skating, closing ceremony
K Makomanai Stadium Speed ​​Skating, Opening Ceremony
L press center
M Olympic Village
N Makomanai cross-country ski area Cross-country skiing, Nordic combined
O Makomanai Biathlon Grounds biathlon
P Fujino toboggan run Tobogganing (training, alternative location)
Q Downhill slopes at Eniwa Alpine skiing


The Olympic Village was located about eight kilometers south of the city center in the Makomanai district. After Sapporo was awarded the contract, the government designated the 14.9-hectare site of the Hokkaidō Police Academy as the location of the new Makomanai-Danchi housing development (the police moved into a new training facility further south) . The settlement, which still exists today, is bounded by a barracks of the Self-Defense Forces in the north, by a wooded range of hills in the east and by Makomanai Park in the west. The Olympic Village included only part of the settlement, in the immediate vicinity of the subway terminus. The male athletes and coaches lived in 18 five-story apartment blocks, the women were housed in two 11-story high-rise buildings. The Olympic Village also included a dining hall, an administration building, a clinic and a building for evening entertainment.



35 countries sent 1008 athletes to Sapporo, including 206 women. This was two countries and 150 athletes fewer than four years earlier, due to increased travel costs. The Philippines and the Republic of China were represented for the first time .

Although the German Democratic Republic had provided a separate team from the Federal Republic four years earlier , it had to accept a common flag and anthem – as was the case with the all- German team that competed from 1956 to 1964 . In view of the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich , the GDR Council of Ministers pushed for a speedy end to restricted sovereignty, especially since GDR symbols were banned in West Germany. At the urging of Willi Daume , the President of the National Olympic Committee for Germany , the federal government decided on July 22, 1969 to lift the ban and presented the IOC with a corresponding declaration of guarantee. Thus, the GDR was able to present itself in Sapporo with its own flag and anthem for the first time . Up until this decision, the state-controlled media in the GDR had been waging a polemical campaign against the federal government for over a year. Relations continued to be chilly, to which various cases of athlete escapes contributed. In January 1972, GDR figure skating champion Günter Zöller fled to the West. The multiple speed skating champion Horst Freese , who had fled to West Germany in 1969, did not receive early clearance from his former association to start in Sapporo, which means that the three-year ban on a change of nation laid down in Article 27 of the Olympic Charter only ended in May 1972 went.

Overview of the participating countries
Europe (738 athletes from 22 countries)
America (152 athletes from 3 countries)
Asia (112 athletes from 8 countries)
Oceania (6 athletes from 2 countries)
(Number of athletes) * First-time participation in Winter Games

Exclusion of Karl Schranz

Avery Brundage (May 1970)

IOC President Avery Brundage uncompromisingly represented an idealized amateurism that no longer corresponded to the modern zeitgeist. As early as 1968, this led to disputes with the International Ski Federation (FIS). In his opening speech at the 70th IOC session in Amsterdam in May 1970, Brundage condemned the professionalization in alpine skiing and ice hockey that was endangering the existence of the Olympic Games (without mentioning the state amateurs in communist countries). In March 1971, the IOC tightened the eligibility requirements set out in Article 26 of the Olympic Charter: any direct or indirect advertising activity by athletes was prohibited, as was media appearances without the express permission of the team management. In May 1971, the ski associations of all Alpine countries threatened a boycott if the IOC insisted on excluding all athletes suspected of professionalism. In this case, World Championships would take place instead of the Winter Games. The FIS indicated that the Nordic countries would also support the boycott. Brundage shied away from total confrontation and, after negotiations with FIS President Marc Hodler , announced in December 1971 that the strict advertising ban would only apply in the context of the Winter Games.

The Austrian Karl Schranz , one of the most successful ski racers of recent years, was considered a symbol of the increasing interdependence of sport and the ski industry and had a close relationship with the owner of the Kneissl company . He repeatedly exposed himself with controversial and undiplomatic statements on this subject. In an interview with the Associated Press , which he gave at the Olympic Village, he described the IOC as an organization with a 19th-century mindset. He accused Brundage that only very rich people could participate with his strict interpretation of the rules. On January 31, 1972, the IOC voted 28:14 to exclude Schranz. A photo taken at a football game in the summer of 1971 in the news magazine Profil served as justification , showing him in a shirt with an advertising print for "Aroma-Kaffee". As Brundage pointed out a few weeks later, all skiers were guilty of professionalism, but Schranz should be given an example because he was the most blatant violator of amateur regulations. Further exclusions would have led to a loss of face for the Japanese hosts.

medals and diplomas

Diploma for the GDR tobogganist Margit Schumann
Bronze medal awarded at ice hockey tournament

The Japan Mint in Osaka produced 267 medals , of which 204 were awarded. The front was designed by Kazumi Yagi and the back by Ikkō Tanaka . The lines engraved on the front are intended to represent soft, flaky snow and sharp-edged ice. The writing XI Olympic Winter Games, Sapporo '72 and the Japanese translation are engraved on the back, together with the logo. Unusually, the 60 mm wide medals are not round but resemble a hexagon with rounded corners. The awards for the runners-up are pure silver; the gold medals are made of silver with a purity of 95% and a gold layer weighing six grams. Attached to the medal is a matching ring embellished with the logo and name of the sport. A blue fabric ribbon hangs from it, with narrow stripes in the Olympic colors on the edge. A casket lined with dark blue velvet was used for storage.

All athletes and officials received a commemorative bronze medal, 60mm wide, minted by the Mint. It was designed by Shigeo Fukuda and the edition was around 10,000. On the obverse, an arrow depicts a moving human figure, meant to symbolize the spirit of sportsmanship; the logo is also engraved on the back. Hiromu Hara designed the Olympic diplomas in two versions: one for the officials and one for the top six in each discipline. He used heavy, cardboard-like paper, on which olive branches and the logo are embossed. Words of appreciation and praise are printed in English and Japanese, along with the recipient's name.

competition program

There were 35 competitions (22 for men, 12 for women and 1 mixed competition) in 6 sports/10 disciplines. There were no changes in the program compared to Grenoble 1968 .

sports and disciplines

Number of competitions in brackets

Time schedule

Time schedule
Discipline/Results Thu
Olympic rings.svg opening ceremony 039,224
Biathlon pictogram.svg biathlon 1 1 2 007,537
Bobsleigh pictogram.svg bob 1 1 2 013,297
Ice hockey pictogram.svg ice Hockey 1 1 167,186
ice skating Figure skating pictogram.svg figure skating 1 1 1 3 034,762
Speed ​​skating pictogram.svg speed skating 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8th 191.130
Luge pictogram.svg luge 2 1 3 006,899
skiing Alpine skiing pictogram.svg Alpine skiing 1 1 1 1 1 1 6 076,938

Nordic skiing
Nordic combined pictogram.svg Nordic combination 1 1 020,341
Cross country skiing pictogram.svg cross country skiing 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7 016,575
Ski jumping pictogram.svg ski jumping 1 1 2 062,079
Olympic rings.svg closing ceremony 005.203
decisions 2 4 3 6 2 3 4 5 3 3 35 641.171

color legend

  • opening ceremony
  • Competition day (no decisions)
  • Competition day (x decisions)
  • closing ceremony
  • ceremonies

    opening ceremony

    The opening ceremony began at 11 am on February 3 at Makomanai Stadium. After the arrival of the imperial couple in the VIP stand, the flags of the participating countries were raised and the Japanese national anthem was played. The athletes marched in, traditionally led by the Greek delegation, while the hosts, the Japanese, rounded out the event. The President of the Organizing Committee then gave a speech and handed the floor to IOC President Brundage. In his speech, accompanied by occasional whistles, he asked Emperor Hirohito to open the games. He entered the stage and spoke the given opening formula.

    Eight soldiers carried the Olympic flag into the stadium and raised it to the sound of the Olympic anthem . Members of the French women's ski team then presented the "Oslo flag", which has been passed on to the respective host city since the 1952 Winter Games . They first handed them over to Grenoble's mayor Hubert Dudebout, who passed them on to his counterpart Takashi Itagaki. 16-year-old figure skater Izumi Tsujimura brought the Olympic torch into the stadium. After skating a lap on the ice, student Hideki Takada carried the torch up 103 flights of stairs and lit it in a large bowl. 848 elementary school students circled the track on skates while speed skater Keiichi Suzuki took the Olympic oaths for the athletes and Fumio Asaki for the judges. Most recently, the elementary school students released over 18,000 colored balloons into the air. Various media reported that only this disorderly ending was able to break through the protocol strictness of the ceremony and arouse enthusiasm in the audience.

    closing ceremony

    The Winter Games Closing Ceremony was held on February 13 at 6 p.m. at the Makomanai Indoor Stadium. The first item on the program was a show of figure skaters, in which twelve men, women and pairs took part. Then the final award ceremony was held for the top three in the men's slalom. The actual ceremony began with the arrival of Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko . After the Japanese anthem had been played, the flag-bearers entered the stadium, led by that of Greece. They were followed by no more than six representatives per country. The Bulgarians and Iranians had already left, so only 35 countries were represented. The flags of Greece, Japan and the USA were hoisted, accompanied by their respective national anthems. Avery Brundage declared the games over, after which the flame was extinguished and the Olympic flag was carried out by eight soldiers. 286 middle school girls surrounded the athletes and performed a farewell dance, during which they formed the five Olympic rings and the lettering Denver '76 . The athletes left the stadium to the sounds of Auld Lang Syne . There was a big fireworks display outside.

    Cultural program

    As stipulated in the Olympic Charter, culture also played an important role in addition to sport. Many visitors were drawn to the Sapporo Snow Festival at Ōdōri Park and Makomanai Barracks, where snow and ice sculptures were on display. A special exhibition of ukiyo-e color woodcuts in the art museum, with works by several important artists from the 17th to 19th centuries, such as e.g. B. Hishikawa Moronobu , Kitagawa Utamaro , Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige . Other exhibitions organized by the city featured photographs, modern Japanese prints and children's drawings from around the world. Mitsukoshi Department Store held an exhibition on the history of the Winter Games. Concerts were given by the NHK Symphony Orchestra , the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic . There were also performances of Kabuki and Noh plays, as well as presentations of folk dances and songs from northern Japan.



    Biathlon was on the Olympic program for the fourth time, but the sport still struggled with little popularity. Comparatively few spectators were interested in what was happening on the military training area. The individual race over 20 km had to be stopped after 15 minutes because visibility was no more than 50 m due to heavy snowfall and the targets in the shooting range could not be seen. At the restart 24 hours later, Norway's Magnar Solberg repeated his 1968 Olympic victory, ahead of East Germany's Hansjörg Knauthe and Sweden 's Lars-Göran Arwidson . None of those who started came through without shooting errors. Also like four years before, the Soviet Union won gold in the relay and relegated Finland and the GDR to the further medal ranks.


    After the first ice rink made of artificial ice was opened in Koenigssee in 1968 , this innovation in bobsleighing quickly caught on. For the last time at the Olympic Winter Games, the bobs drove on a natural ice rink. Both races developed into a duel between the German Wolfgang Zimmerer and the Swiss Jean Wicki , the best bob pilots in recent years. In the first run of the two-man bobsleigh competition, Zimmerer and his brakeman Peter Utzschneider created an unassailable lead of eight tenths of a second, which they managed safely in the three other runs. Wicki and his brakeman Edy Hubacher were overtaken by the second German bob with Horst Floth and Pepi Bader and had to settle for bronze. During the four-man race there was heavy snowfall, which made the track significantly slower. Wicki (with Hubacher, Hans Leutenegger and Werner Camichel ) only achieved the best time in the first run, but drove the most balanced and benefited from time-consuming mistakes by his competitors. Italian Nevio De Zordo 's bobsleigh finished second, ahead of Zimmerer's team. Overall, the time intervals were unusually large.

    ice Hockey

    Since 1924, the Olympic ice hockey tournament had always been counted as a world championship , until the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) decided to host both an Olympic tournament and a world championship in the same year from 1972. In order to create more equal opportunities, the IIHF decided in 1969 to also allow professionals who were not under contract in the National Hockey League to play for national teams. Only a year later, this regulation had to be revoked under pressure from the IOC President, who was strictly against amateurs and professionals playing together. In protest, Canada refrained from participating in Olympic tournaments until 1980. Eligible were the top twelve teams from the 1971 A and B World Championships . The GDR canceled because ice hockey funding had been significantly reduced after the disappointing performance. Thus, only eleven teams took part in Sapporo.

    As the reigning world champions, the Soviet Union was seeded for the final round, while the remaining teams had to qualify in elimination matches. The losers played in Group B for places 7-11, while the winners played for the medals together with the Soviet Union in Group A. Both partial tournaments were held in the "everyone against everyone" system, there was no subsequent knockout round and therefore no actual final. In Group A, the favored Soviets confirmed their role as favourites: with the exception of a draw against Sweden , they had no trouble with their opponents. They achieved four clear victories and secured their third consecutive Olympic gold medal. Valery Kharlamov was the top scorer with nine goals and seven assists . Somewhat unexpectedly, the silver medal went to the USA team . Czechoslovakia could have won the tournament by beating the Soviet Union in their last game , but lost 5-2, leaving them with only the bronze medal.

    figure skating

    Soviet Olympic postage stamp with a figure skater

    Figure skating was in a state of upheaval: the obligation , in which given figures had to be skated as precisely as possible, was increasingly felt to be outdated. In order to increase the attractiveness of the sport for television viewers, the International Skating Union (ISU) decided in 1969 to change the ratio of compulsory to freestyle in the overall ranking from 60:40 to 50:50. Even so, excellent compulsory runners still had an advantage. In the women's individual competition, Austria's Beatrix Schuba developed such a large lead that her Olympic victory was never in jeopardy, despite only being the seventh-best freestyle performance; she could have even allowed herself three falls in the freestyle. Silver went to Canadian Karen Magnussen and bronze to American Janet Lynn , who had shown far better freestyle performances. Although Sonja Morgenstern from the GDR was the first woman ever to stand a triple Salchow in an Olympic competition , this was only enough for her 6th place The reform known as “Lex Schuba” was decided: The compulsory was now rated at 40%, the newly introduced short program at 20% and the freestyle at 40%.

    The result in the men's individual competition was significantly more balanced. Ondrej Nepela , the compulsory winner from Czechoslovakia, showed the fourth best freestyle (despite a fall in the triple Salchow) and secured the gold medal. Sergei Chetverukhin of the Soviet Union won silver with third best mandatory and best freestyle. Like four years ago, bronze went to Patrick Péra from France . There was a Soviet double victory in pair skating: Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanow were just ahead of Lyudmila Smirnowa and Andrei Suraikin in both the short program and the freestyle , while Manuela Groß and Uwe Kagelmann from the GDR won bronze. The separation of the two Soviet couples immediately after the competition caused a great stir in the media: Ulanov and Smirnova had fallen in love and married just five days after the end of the Winter Games.

    speed skating

    Victory ceremony of the women's 500 meter race

    In Grenoble, the Dutch had established themselves as the leading speed skating nation. In Sapporo they impressively confirmed their supremacy and won nine medals, four of them gold. The multiple world champion and world record holder Ard Schenk had set himself the goal of winning gold in all four disciplines, which he did not quite succeed in doing. In the first race over 5000 meters he won with a lead of more than four seconds. On the other hand, he had a mishap on the 500-meter sprint distance when he fell right at the start and finished third from last. The German Erhard Keller won the gold medal, repeating his 1968 Olympic victory. Schenk quickly overcame the setback and also won the 1,500 and 10,000 meters, each setting a new Olympic record . Immediately after the Winter Games, he transferred to the newly formed professional International Speed ​​Skating League to make money from advertising.

    In the four women's races there were four different winners, all running Olympic records. The only 16-year-old American Anne Henning won gold in the 500 m. She was allowed to compete twice because she was obstructed by her competitor in the first attempt. She improved by 0.40 seconds, but she would have won even without a restart. Only one year older was Monika Pflug from the Federal Republic of Germany, who won the 1000 m race. Another American Olympic victory came from Dianne Holum in the 1500m, while Christina Baas-Kaiser from the Netherlands won the 3000m. Notable was the performance of 14-year-old American Connie Carpenter , who finished seventh in the 1500m. Due to injuries, she later switched to cycling and became the 1984 Olympic road race champion.

    Nordic combination

    Surprisingly, the only 19-year-old Ulrich Wehling from the GDR won the Nordic Combined . He was followed by the Finn Rauno Miettinen and another GDR athlete , Karl-Heinz Luck . Franz Keller , the German defending champion and co-favourite, did not live up to expectations and only achieved 33rd place.


    Like bobsledding, these Olympic luge races were the last to be held on a natural ice rink. The DDR team showed unprecedented dominance, winning eight out of nine medals. In the women's singles race, Anna-Maria Müller won ahead of Ute Rührold and Margit Schumann . There was even a quadruple victory in the men's singles ( Wolfgang Scheidel ahead of Harald Ehrig , Wolfram Fiedler and Klaus-Michael Bonsack ). Only the Italians Paul Hildgartner and Walter Plaikner could keep up. They won the gold medal in doubles at the same time as Horst Hörnlein and Reinhard Bredow , while Bonsack and Fiedler took bronze. This tie prompted the world tobogganing association FIL to measure running times to the nearest thousandth of a second from 1976 onwards.

    The competition initially suspected extremely tough training conditions or unfair methods such as heating the runners as reasons for the superiority of the tobogganists from the GDR. In fact, the successes were mainly due to technical achievements in the field of materials. While conventional sleds "off the peg" with canvas seats were still used in the West, the GDR sledders drove on models that had been developed in the Institute for Research and Development of Sports Equipment at the German University of Physical Culture in Leipzig . They had custom-made plastic bucket seats and skids made from new alloys. In addition, the best driving position was determined in a wind tunnel .

    Alpine skiing

    Since the Olympic races also counted as the 22nd Alpine World Ski Championships , the top three in downhill , giant slalom and slalom received additional world championship medals. The combination , made up of the results of these three races, only counted as a world championship discipline. This regulation had existed since the 1948 Winter Games and was valid until 1980. In addition to Karl Schranz , Annie Famose was also affected by the strict interpretation of the amateur statute. The FIS prohibited the French from participating in the slalom. During the giant slalom (which she did not start in) she had made comments for Radio Television Luxembourg which were exploited commercially. However, Famose had explained that, as stipulated by the statutes, she had not received a fee and also had the permission of the association officials. The French, the dominant team in the Ski World Cup , were also weakened in other ways: Ingrid Lafforgue , Françoise Macchi , Jacqueline Rouvier and Patrick Russel , who were all among the medal contenders, were absent due to injury.

    The Swiss team was the most successful, winning three gold, two silver and one bronze medals. The co-favorite Austrians came up with four medals, but remained without an Olympic victory in this sport. Above all , victories were expected from Annemarie Proell , the serial winner of the last and current World Cup season. In both the downhill and giant slalom, the top favorite was surprisingly beaten by 17-year-old Swiss Marie-Theres Nadig and had to settle for two silver medals. In the downhill, the bronze medal went to the American Susan Corrock , in the giant slalom to the Austrian Wiltrud Drexel . The slalom ended with another surprise: the American Barbara Ann Cochran won 0.02 seconds ahead of the French Danièle Debernard , third place was taken by another French woman, Florence Steurer .

    In view of the season's performances so far and the training results, the media unanimously expected a Swiss success in the men's downhill, especially since Karl Schranz, the biggest competitor, dropped out. All four Swiss who started classified among the top six, the race ended with a double victory. Bernhard Russi , the 1970 World Champion, won by a clear margin over his teammate Roland Collombin ; third-placed Austrian Heinrich Messner was almost a second slower. After the first run of the giant slalom, the Norwegian Erik Håker led , but dropped out in the second run. The Italian Gustav Thöni benefited from this, winning the race ahead of the Swiss Edmund Bruggmann and Werner Mattle . The victory of the Spaniard Francisco Fernández Ochoa in the final slalom is considered one of the biggest surprises in the history of alpine skiing. To date, this is the only Spanish Olympic win at the Winter Games. The other medals went to Gustav Thöni and his cousin Roland Thöni .

    cross country skiing

    Norwegian cross-country skiers Pål Tyldum (left) and Magne Myrmo (right), January 1972

    The Olympic competitions in Nordic skiing were also considered the 29th Nordic World Ski Championships . Similar to the Alpines, cross- country skiers and ski jumpers received additional World Championship medals. This rule was introduced at the first Winter Games in 1924 and lasted until 1980.

    While ski jumping was a crowd puller, the cross country races attracted very little interest; not even a quarter of the tickets could be sold. The cross-country skiers from the Soviet Union did best, with five wins in seven races. In a class of her own was Galina Kulakova , who won gold in both the 5K, 10K and relay. The winners of the men were the Swede Sven-Åke Lundbäck over 15 km, the Russian Wjatscheslaw Wedenin over 30 km, the Norwegian Pål Tyldum over 50 km and the Soviet relay. Remarkable was the third place of the Swiss relay, which left the Swedes behind in the final sprint.

    ski jumping

    The Japanese figured out the greatest chances of medals in the ski jumping competitions. Their hopes rested primarily on Yukio Kasaya , who had shown outstanding performance at the Four Hills Tournament in 1971/72 and won the first three competitions in Oberstdorf , Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Innsbruck . He had to give up the certain overall victory and return to Japan before the final competition in Bischofshofen to prepare intensively in Sapporo. The strategy paid off with Kasaya convincingly winning Japan's first Winter Olympics gold medal on the small hill, ahead of teammates Akitsugu Konno and Seiji Aochi . Five days later, on the national holiday, the numerous spectators expected a similar success on the large hill. However, strong gusts of wind turned the competition into a lottery. Surprisingly, the little-known Pole Wojciech Fortuna , who had only traveled as a substitute, won with the smallest possible lead of 0.1 points over Walter Steiner from Switzerland . The bronze medal went to Rainer Schmidt from the GDR.

    Outstanding athletes and achievements

    The most successful participants
    rank athlete country sport gold silver bronze total
    1 Galina Kulakova Soviet Union 1955 Soviet Union cross country skiing 3 3
    Ard Schenk Netherlands Netherlands speed skating 3 3
    3 Vyacheslav Vedenin Soviet Union 1955 Soviet Union cross country skiing 2 1 3
    4 Marie Theres Nadig Switzerland Switzerland Alpine skiing 2 2
    5 Pal Tyldum Norway Norway cross country skiing 1 2 3

    The most successful athletes in Sapporo were the Dutch speed skater Ard Schenk and the Soviet cross-country skier Galina Kulakova , who each celebrated three victories. At 13 years and 28 days old, Soviet figure skater Marina Sanaya was the youngest participant in these Winter Games. She finished 18th in the individual competition, making her second-bottom. The oldest participant, aged 42 years and 178 days, was the Canadian bobsledder Hans Gehrig , who finished 13th in the four-man bobsleigh and 18th in the two-man bobsleigh.

    Doping and gender controls

    At the 1968 Winter Games, doping tests were carried out sporadically , and in 1972 this was done systematically for the first time. A random selection of the top three in each discipline and two players from each team after each ice hockey game had to provide urine samples . On February 9, the IOC reported the supposed first case of doping at the Winter Games: German ice hockey player Alois Schloder had been found to be taking a stimulant containing ephedrine , which resulted in his exclusion from the tournament. However, the drug had been prescribed to him shortly beforehand by the team doctor of the German Ice Hockey Federation because of low blood pressure. The International Ice Hockey Federation lifted the six-month ban a little later and Schloder was back on the team at the World Championships in April 1972.

    After the case became known, the press in the GDR wrote that the "West German squadron" had "put an end to the Olympic truce". However, by 1968 at the latest, the use of anabolic-androgenic substances in the entire high-performance area of ​​the German Gymnastics and Sports Association had become established in the GDR . The number of possibly doped athletes cannot be determined. Striking increases in performance are noticeable, which cannot be explained solely with technical innovations such as in luge.

    In order to prevent hermaphrodites from participating in competitions for women, the IOC had sex checks carried out. All athletes had to undergo a test in the women's quarters of the Olympic Village. Staff at the Sapporo Medical University took swabs from the oral mucosa and found no abnormalities when examining the chromosome pattern.


    3,713 media representatives reported from Sapporo: 1,044 press journalists and photographers, 163 news agency representatives, 667 radio and television journalists, 178 official documentary film technicians and 1,075 TV technicians. This meant that more than a thousand press accreditations had to be awarded than in Grenoble, which was mainly due to the marked increase in TV technicians. The press center was located in Kashiwagaoka on the southern edge of Makomanai Park . It comprised three buildings with a usable area of ​​9216 m² and was ready for operation in November 1971 after 13 months of construction. The foreign media representatives were housed either in Kashiwagaoka itself or in the neighboring settlement of Midorimachi. Two large apartment buildings owned by the state housing company Nihon Jūtaku Kōdan were available for the Japanese journalists in the city center.

    Nippon Telegraph and Telephone was responsible for all data processing , replacing the previous monopoly IBM , which had been active since computers were first used at the 1960 Winter Games . The data center was housed in a new building in the city center. The public broadcaster NHK was responsible for the production of the television broadcasts and the technical services for those foreign broadcasters that had acquired broadcasting rights. For the exclusive rights in the USA, NBC paid 6.401 million US dollars (equivalent to approx. 34.5 million euros today, adjusted for inflation). The European Broadcasting Union paid $1.233 million (€6.6 million) for the rights in 23 Western European countries, while the NHK paid $530,000 (€2.9 million) for Japan. In all, the broadcast rights cost $8.475 million (€45.6 million), more than triple the amount in 1968. The total duration of the first-ever full color television broadcasts was 162 hours and 35 minutes. These could be received in 40 countries.

    Reactions in German-speaking countries

    In Austria , large parts of the population felt that Karl Schranz 's exclusion was a violation of national pride . A wave of outrage dominated the headlines and radio broadcasts for two weeks. There was a widespread opinion that the "aged millionaire" Avery Brundage had conspired with the Communists and Schranz "[sacrificed] on the altar of a long-standing mendacious amateurism". Calls by the Kleine Zeitung and the Minister of Education , Fred Sinowatz , for the entire Austrian delegation to leave early as a protest went unheeded, especially since Schranz himself rejected such a drastic step. On February 8, he landed at Vienna-Schwechat Airport , where he was received by a crowd euphoric from the reporting. He drove to the city center in Sinowatz' company car, with numerous people lining the roadside. Arriving at Ballhausplatz , he went to the balcony of the Federal Chancellery together with Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky to be celebrated by the cheering crowd. The police estimates that around 87,000 people attended the return, which was staged as a hero's reception. Similar scenes were repeated a day later in Innsbruck . The athletes who stayed in Sapporo were under massive pressure from the public and received numerous threatening letters. The only Austrian gold medal by Beatrix Schuba was mocked as "Judas-Gold" of a "traitor" without solidarity. No reception had been planned for the figure skater in her hometown of Vienna , which is why Linz stepped in at short notice.

    Switzerland was more successful than ever in Sapporo and finished third in the medal table. Eight years earlier, at the 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck, not a single Swiss had won a medal. This was followed by a far-reaching reform of top-class sport structures, accompanied by the introduction of modern management methods in the associations, targeted promotion of young talent and the founding of the Swiss Sports Aid . Adolf Ogi , the technical director of the Swiss Ski Association , is considered a key figure in the success : in February 1971 he led a delegation that measured the routes in Sapporo, examined the snow conditions using scientific methods and studied the weather conditions. As a result, the ski wax mixtures from Toko could be optimally adapted to the conditions. Such meticulous preparation is common today but was revolutionary back then. During the "golden days of Sapporo" Ogi made a name for itself in the media and became so well known that the media soon coined the motto "Ogi's people win today". He used this popularity for a political career, which he crowned in 1987 with election to the Federal Council .

    With 14 medals, the GDR provided the second best team. The press cheered the success and at the same time railed against journalists from the Federal Republic . The Sportecho described attempts by the German media to get in touch with GDR athletes as “dirty work”. Another accusation was that they were "pioneers of political intrigues, deliberate defamation and gross agitation". According to a report by the Federal Intelligence Service , the SED party leadership was still dissatisfied with the effect of the propaganda: the population was happy about the successes, but did not sufficiently recognize that they were based on the "superiority of socialism". Due to the great distance from Sapporo, the propagandistic efforts were mainly aimed at the upcoming summer games at the “ class enemy ” in Munich . The West German athletes, who won five medals, performed below expectations. Die Zeit attributed this to the fact that the athletes were strangely exposed to greater pressure to perform due to the increased grants from the German Sports Aid Foundation . Johann Baptist Gradl , the chairman of the Kuratorium Unteilbares Deutschland , was of the opinion that sports officials and the population of the Federal Republic had begun to increasingly regard the successes of GDR athletes as achievements of "German" and not "socialist" athletes.


    The Sapporo Winter Games were considered a great success and the quality of the organization was widely praised. According to Yugo Ono, professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Hokkaidō University , the city "undeniably benefited from the Olympics". The event allowed it to accelerate its growth and urbanization, mainly thanks to the numerous new infrastructures such as roads, metro and sports facilities. The Winter Games have given Sapporo the image of a young and cosmopolitan city. The tourist attraction increased, especially in the winter season. This is particularly true of the Sapporo Snow Festival , which was held for the 23rd time in 1972 and which first came into the international limelight with the Winter Games.

    Jean-Loup Chappelet, professor of public management at the University of Lausanne , estimated the environmental impact to be relatively minor and called the 1972 Winter Games the first to actually take environmental issues into account. In the case of the downhill slopes on the Eniwa , however, this only applies to a limited extent: the Olympic races were hardly over when all the facilities there that had only been used for a year were demolished. The subsequent reforestation program lasted until 1986. Four decades after the Winter Games, local media reported that the forest aisles had grown over, but that the new forest remained more like a plantation and it would probably take a hundred years before the forest was fully restored to its natural state.

    Numerous major sporting events have been held in Sapporo since 1972. These include the Winter Asian Games in 1986, 1990 and 2017, and the 2007 Nordic World Ski Championships . Both ski jumps are regular venues for Ski Jumping World Cup competitions . The city considered a candidacy for the 2026 Winter Games , especially since all the necessary sports facilities already exist and no new buildings would have to be built. In light of the damage caused by the 2018 Hokkaidō earthquake , the city officially withdrew the candidacy on September 17, 2018, but remains interested in hosting in 2030.


    • Volker Kluge : Olympic Winter Games - The chronicle . Sportverlag, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-328-00831-4 .
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    • Miscellaneous Authors: Sapporo72 . Ed.: Swiss Olympic Committee . Berne 1972.
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    • Official report. (PDF, 43.3 MB) Organizing Committee of the XI. 1972, 1973 Winter Olympics, accessed September 15, 2018 (English/French, page references refer to English text).

    web links

    Commons : 1972 Winter Olympics  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


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    1. All currency conversions from Yen to Euro as of February 1, 1972 (adjusting for inflation up to September 2018) according to Past Calculators. fxtop.com, retrieved September 15, 2018 .
    2. The only exception was the Tsukisamu Gymnasium , which was not ready for occupancy until November 1971.
    3. At this point, Denver was officially scheduled as the next venue. After a number of technical and financial problems during the preparations, a committee forced a referendum. In November 1972, Colorado state voters voted against hosting the Winter Games, prompting Innsbruck to step in as a backup location.