1972 Winter Olympics

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XI. winter Olympics
1972 Winter Olympics logo
Venue: Sapporo ( Japan )
Stadion: Makomanai Stadium
Opening ceremony: 3rd February 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 XI Winter Olympics ; Japanese 第 11 回 オ リ ン ピ ッ ク 冬季 競技 大会 , Daijūikkai orinpikku tōkikyōgitaika ) took place from February 3 to 13, 1972 in Sapporo , the capital of the northernmost Japanese prefecture of Hokkaidō . For the first time in the history of the Winter Olympics , they were held in a city with more than one million inhabitants. It was also the first time they took place outside of Europe or North America . Sapporo had been awarded the contract for the 1940 Winter Games , but could not hold them because of the Pacific War . The 1972 Winter Games were the second Olympic Games in Japan and Asia after the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo . All sports facilities were built or rebuilt with a view to this event. With one exception, they were 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 Kulakowa 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 team that was separate from the Federal Republic of Germany in 1968 , but appeared for the first time with its own flag and national anthem. The Switzerland experienced the "golden days of Sapporo" and was as successful as ever. In Austria , the exclusion of ski racer Karl Schranz for violating the amateur statute caused great outrage.

Medal table
space country G S. B. Ges.
1 Soviet Union 1955Soviet Union Soviet Union 8th 5 3 16
2 Germany Democratic Republic 1949GDR GDR 4th 3 7th 14th
3 SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland 4th 3 3 10
4th NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 4th 3 2 9
5 United StatesUnited States United States 3 2 3 8th
6th Germany BRBR Germany BR Germany 3 1 1 5
7th NorwayNorway Norway 2 5 5 12
8th ItalyItaly Italy 2 2 1 5
9 AustriaAustria Austria 1 2 2 5
10 SwedenSweden Sweden 1 1 2 4th
Complete medal table

Choice of venue

The Sapporo Winter Games had a lead time of over 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 its desire to hold the 1940 Winter Games as well . Since there were no other candidacies, 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 join that for Tokyo. The Winter Games were to take place from February 3-14, 1940.

At the 37th session in Cairo in March 1938, the IOC discussed an application by the absent Chinese member Wang Zhengting . He called for Japan to withdraw the games due to the ongoing war. The IOC held on to the venues, but President Henri de Baillet-Latour was behind the scenes preparing steps to enable a voluntary return in the face of growing criticism from within Japan. After the war-related austerity policy had already led to the cancellation of the planned world exhibition , the government finally withdrew its support from the organizing committee on July 14, 1938. The IOC awarded the 1940 Winter Games to St. Moritz two and a half months later . As a dispute arose over the admission of ski instructors to the alpine ski races, the Swiss Olympic Committee was not prepared to support the event. In a secret vote, the IOC then awarded the Winter Games to Garmisch-Partenkirchen . With the outbreak of the Second World War , these had to be finally canceled.

place country be right
Sapporo JapanJapan Japan 32
Banff CanadaCanada Canada 16
Lahti FinlandFinland Finland 07th
Salt Lake City United StatesUnited States United States 07th

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), which was also supposed to bring the 1968 Winter Games to Japan. After field studies and surveys with sports associations, 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 candidacies; Grenoble was awarded the contract .

Sapporo's city council then examined all aspects of the failed candidacy and decided on another for 1972. Of central importance to the intensified efforts was the cultivation of relationships with decision-makers in the Olympic Movement - especially 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 on October 6, 1965 at the 64th IOC session in Madrid . The decision was made on April 26, 1966 at the 65th session in Rome : Sapporo received the majority of the votes in the first ballot, ahead of Banff , Lahti and Salt Lake City .

Organization and preparation

Organizing Committee

On July 26, 1966, the organizing committee was formed, consisting of the committee, 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 from 1968 president) of the economic umbrella organization Nippon Keidanren . The number of employees grew continuously and reached its peak in February 1972 with 392 people. Most of these were officials from the state, prefecture and city administration who had been assigned for this purpose. Support personnel came from the ranks of the Self-Defense Forces , the Prefecture Police and the fire department. Together with temporary employees from the private sector, this resulted in a workforce of 16,373.

The Parliament adopted a law in July 1967 subsidies by the Ministry of Finance allowed and the free use of state property. A “preparatory council” took over the coordination between those administrative departments that carried out supporting tasks in organization and planning. The council reports directly to the prime minister and was composed of several deputy ministers. In addition, a Minister of State for Olympic Affairs coordinated cooperation between Parliament, government agencies, the prefectural administration and the city of Sapporo. Michita Sakata held this position from December 1968 to January 1970, followed by Shin'ichi Nishida until July 1971 and finally by Motosaburo Tokai until the opening.


Direct expenditure was 17.305 billion yen (equivalent to 158.981 million euros in September 2018). Of this total, ¥ 8.108 billion (€ 74.5 million) was accounted for by administrative costs and ¥ 9.197 billion (€ 83.9 million) for the construction of sports facilities. Of the latter sum, the Japanese state 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 implementation of the Winter Games were financed as follows: subsidies from the state, the prefecture and the city (2.95 billion yen or € 27.1 million), financial contributions from private companies and the sports fund (2.228 billion yen). ¥ 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 rental, loans and liquidation of real estate (together ¥ 616 million and € 5.7 million respectively). Various other sources of money came from the rest.

Government infrastructure investments totaling 201.74 billion yen (equivalent to 1.920 billion euros in September 2018) were added to the expenses in connection with the organization. The expansion of the road network alone cost ¥ 85 billion (€ 781 million). The subway construction came to a standstill at 42.6 billion (€ 391.4 million), and the pre-financing of the expansion of the hotel offering at 13.14 billion (€ 120.7 million). Other items of expenditure included a. an underground shopping arcade in the city center, the construction of the Olympic Village and a new city hall as well as the expansion of the airports and the Sapporo train station .


The state, the prefecture and the city worked closely with the organizing committee to modernize the road infrastructure. 41 roads with a total length of 213 km have been built, widened, re-paved or otherwise improved to connect the sports facilities, the Olympic Village and the main points of the city. This included in particular the Sasson motorway towards Otaru , the first motorway on Hokkaidō. On December 15, 1971, the first 12.6 km section of the Sapporo subway went into operation. This made Sapporo the fourth Japanese city with a subway after Tokyo , Osaka and Nagoya . In addition, Chitose Airport and its runways have been modernized and expanded, while Okadama Regional Airport has seen minor improvements. The transport service set up for the Winter Games used over 14,700 vehicles between January 10 and February 17, 1972 to bring athletes, officials, journalists, invited guests, employees, spectators and material to their destination. These included around 6,900 cars, 2,800 minibuses, 3,100 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 final rehearsal and to optimize 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 experience in organizing international sports events, were able to gain valuable experience. The data processing and newly developed electronic timing systems from Seiko were also tested .

Torch relay

On December 28, 1971, the Olympic torch was lit in the ruins of ancient Olympia . She first came to Naha on Okinawa via Athens by plane . On New Year's Day 1972, she was flown to Tokyo Haneda Airport and carried to the National Stadium , where the Emperor's Cup final took place. We continued to Nirasaki , where the flame was shared and two routes through the north of Honshu began. The eastern one led via Maebashi , Utsunomiya , Fukushima , Sendai and Hachinohe , the western via Matsumoto , Nagano , Niigata , Yamagata and Akita , until they reunited in Aomori . The flame came by ship to Hakodate at the southern tip of Hokkaidō and from there on three different routes through all regions of the island to the venue. In Sapporo, the three flames were carried to the central Ōdōri park on January 30th , 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 a total of 18,749.8 km; 4828.8 km of which were running routes. 16,300 runners between the ages of 11 and 20 carried the torch designed by Munemichi Yanagi in uniform clothing .

Visual appearance

Eight graphic designers created the official logo . The choice fell on the design by Kazumasa Nagai , 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 word SAPPORO'72 . Two groups of pictograms showed visitors the way or appeared on official publications. Yoshiro Yamashita designed those for the sports, while the symbols for facilities and equipment were created by Shigeo Fukuda and are adaptations of his works for the Expo '70 in Osaka.

In 1971 and 1972 the Japanese Post issued five special postage stamps with Olympic motifs. A total of 300 postage stamps relating to the Winter Games were issued in 42 countries worldwide. Four official posters , designed by renowned graphic artists and printed in an edition of 30,000 to 40,000 copies 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. The conclusion was in 1971 a poster by Gan Hosoya with the words 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 the preparations. Before and during the event, the director Masahiro Shinoda shot an official documentary in 35mm cinema format on behalf of the IOC . Sapporo Winter Olympics (Japanese 札幌 オ リ ン ピ ッ ク , Sapporo Orinpikku ) was published in a two-hour English version and a 40-minute longer Japanese version.

Olympic locations

Sports facilities

View of the Teine

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

The main location was the Makomanai Park , at the mouth of the Makomanai River in the Toyohira . In the middle of the park is the Makomanai Stadium , the venue for the speed skating competitions and the opening ceremony . In the Makomanai indoor stadium in the northeast corner of the park, two thirds of the ice hockey games , the decisions in figure skating and the closing ceremony took place. The Olympic Village , the press center and the offices of the organizing committees were in the immediate vicinity of the park . The temporary cross-country skiing stadium was built in the Nishioka Valley east of the Olympic Village . On a south adjoining military training area were biathlon races held.

The scene of four alpine ski races was the upper area of ​​the winter sports area Sapporo Teine , on the northern 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. Three mountain railways and three temporary target stadiums also had to be built. In the lower area, two tracks were built for the bobsleigh and toboggan competitions . The bobsled run was the first ever in Japan.

The altitude difference on the Teine was too small for the alpine downhill races. It would have been possible to use winter sports areas far away, such as Furano or Niseko , but the organizing committee weighted the geographical compactness of the sports facilities and short distances higher than environmental protection. Despite a petition from conservationists to the IOC president, it determined the location of the Eniwa volcano , just south of the city limits on Shikotsu Lake in Shikotsu-Tōya 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-Schanze ( K-point 110 m) was built in 1931 according to plans by the Norwegian Olaf Helset , but no longer met the requirements and had to be rebuilt and received grandstands with a capacity of 50,000 spectators. There wasn't enough space for a second hill. Therefore, the Miyanomori hill (K-point 70 m) was built about 1.5 km away with space for 20,000 spectators. To the north and south-east of the city center, two smaller ice rinks were built, the Mikaho sports hall for the compulsory program of figure skaters and the Tsukisamu sports hall for ten ice hockey games. The Fujino toboggan run was also available to the luge athletes as a training opportunity and alternative location.

# investment sport Map of Sapporo
A. Teine toboggan run Sledding Situation map
B. Teine bobsleigh run Bobsledding
C. Giant slalom piste on the 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 sports hall figure skating
I. Tsukisamu Sports Hall 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 skiing area Cross-country skiing, Nordic combined
O Makomanai biathlon area biathlon
P Fujino toboggan run Tobogganing (training, alternative location)
Q Downhill slopes on the 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 determined the 14.9 hectare site of the Police Academy Hokkaido as the site of the new large housing estate Makomanai-Danchi (the police moved further south, a new training facility). The settlement that still exists today is bordered by a barracks of the self-defense forces in the north, by a forested range of hills in the east and by Makomanai Park in the west. The Olympic Village comprised only part of the settlement, in the immediate vicinity of the subway terminus. The male athletes and supervisors lived in 18 five-story apartment blocks, while the women lived in two eleven-story high-rise buildings. The Olympic Village also included a dining room, an administration building, a clinic and a building for evening entertainment.



35 countries sent 1,008 athletes to Sapporo, including 206 women. That was two countries and 150 athletes less than four years earlier, which is due to the 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 . With a view to the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich , the GDR Council of Ministers urged a rapid end to the restricted sovereignty, especially since GDR symbols were banned in the Federal Republic. At the urging of Willi Daume , President of the National Olympic Committee for Germany , the federal government decided on July 22, 1969 to lift the ban and submitted a corresponding declaration of guarantee to the IOC. Thus, the GDR was able to present itself for the first time in Sapporo with its own flag and anthem . Up until this decision, the state-controlled media in the GDR had waged a polemical campaign against the federal government for over a year. Relationships continued to be chilly, to which various cases of athlete flight contributed. In January 1972, GDR figure skating champion Günter Zöller left for the West. The multiple speed skating champion Horst Freese , who fled to the Federal Republic in 1969, did not receive early approval from his former association for a start in Sapporo, which means that the three-year ban stipulated in Article 27 of the Olympic Charter for a change of nation 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) * Participation in winter games for the first time

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. For this reason, disputes with the International Ski Federation (FIS) had already started in 1968 . In his opening speech at the 70th IOC session in Amsterdam in May 1970, Brundage condemned the professionalization in alpine skiing and ice hockey , which endangered the existence of the Olympic Games (although he did not mention the state amateurs in communist countries). In March 1971, the IOC tightened the admission requirements regulated 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 being a professional. 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 a total confrontation and announced in December 1971 after negotiations with FIS President Marc Hodler 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 in recent years, was 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 topic. In an interview with Associated Press he gave in the Olympic Village, he described the IOC as a 19th-century mindset. He accused Brundage that with his strict interpretation of the rules only very rich people could participate. On January 31, 1972, the IOC decided with 28:14 votes to expel Schranz. A photo taken in the summer of 1971 at a soccer game in the news magazine Profil , which showed him in a camisole with advertising for “Aroma Coffee”, served as justification . As Brundage explained a few weeks later, all ski racers were guilty of professionalism, but an example should be made of Schranz because he had most obviously violated the amateur regulations. However, further exclusions would have led to the Japanese hosts losing face.

Medals and Diplomas

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

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

All athletes and officials received a 60 mm wide bronze commemorative medal, minted by the Mint. It was designed by Shigeo Fukuda , and the edition was around 10,000. On the front, an arrow represents a moving human figure, which is supposed to symbolize the sporting spirit; 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 six best in each discipline. He used heavy, cardboard-like paper for this, 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

35 competitions (22 for men, 12 for women and 1 mixed competition) in 6 sports / 10 disciplines were held. 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 Thursday
Olympic rings without rims.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 6th 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 7th 016,575
Ski jumping pictogram.svg Ski jumping 1 1 2 062,079
Olympic rings without rims.svg Closing ceremony 005,203
decisions 2 4th 3 6th 2 3 4th 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 on February 3rd at 11am at Makomanai Stadium. After the imperial couple arrived in the official gallery, the flags of the participating countries were raised and the Japanese national anthem played. This was followed by the invasion of the athletes, traditionally led by the Greek delegation, while the Japanese as hosts formed the end. The President of the Organizing Committee then gave a speech and gave the floor to IOC President Brundage. In his speech, accompanied by occasional whistles, he asked Emperor Hirohito to open the games. He stepped on the stage and spoke the given opening formula.

    Eight soldiers carried the Olympic flag into the stadium and hoisted 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 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 she had run a lap on the ice, the same age student Hideki Takada carried the torch 103 steps up and lit it in a large bowl. 848 elementary school students circled the track on ice skates while speed skater Keiichi Suzuki took the Olympic oaths for the athletes and Fumio Asaki for the referees . Most recently, the primary school students let over 18,000 colored balloons rise into the air. Various media reported that only this disorderly ending point was able to break the strict protocol of the ceremony and spark enthusiasm in the audience.

    Closing ceremony

    The closing ceremony of the Winter Games took place on February 13th at 6 p.m. in the Makomanai indoor stadium. The first item on the program was a show run by the figure skaters, in which twelve men, women and couples took part. Then the last award ceremony for the three best of the men's slalom was held. The actual ceremony began with the arrival of Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko . After playing the Japanese anthem, 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 the corresponding 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, in the course of which they formed the five Olympic rings and the writing Denver '76 . The athletes left the stadium to the sound of Auld Lang Syne . The event ended with a large fireworks display outside.

    Cultural supporting program

    As stipulated in the Olympic Charter, culture also played an important role in addition to sports. Many visitors were attracted to the Sapporo Snow Festival in Makdōri Park and on the Makomanai barracks grounds, where sculptures made of snow and ice could be viewed . A special exhibition of ukiyo-e colored woodcuts in the art museum, with works by several important artists from the 17th to 19th centuries, such as B. Hishikawa Moronobu , Kitagawa Utamaro , Katsushika Hokusai, and Utagawa Hiroshige . Other exhibitions organized by the city included photographs, modern Japanese prints and children's drawings from around the world. Mitsukoshi Department Store hosted 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 theater pieces and presentations of folk dances and songs from Northern Japan.


    Alpine skiing

    Since the Olympic races also counted as the 22nd Alpine World Ski Championships , the top three received additional World Championship medals in the downhill , giant slalom and slalom . The combination , put together from the results of these three races, only counted as a world championship discipline. This regulation existed since the Winter Games in 1948 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 forbade the French woman to participate in the slalom. During the giant slalom (for which she did not start) she made comments for Radio Television Luxembourg that were commercially exploited. However, Famose had stated that, as stipulated in the statutes, she had not received any fee and had also had the permission of the association officials. Otherwise, the French, the dominant team in the Ski World Cup , were severely weakened: Ingrid Lafforgue , Françoise Macchi , Jacqueline Rouvier and Patrick Russel , who were all contenders for medals, were absent due to injuries.

    The most successful was the Swiss team, which won three gold, two silver and one bronze medal. The Austrians who were also favored came up with four medals, but remained without an Olympic victory in this sport. Especially from Annemarie Pröll , the serial winner of the last and the current World Cup season, victories were expected. Both in the downhill and in the giant slalom, however, the top favorite surprisingly had to admit defeat by the 17-year-old Swiss Marie-Theres Nadig and be satisfied with two silver medals. In the downhill, the bronze medal went to the American Susan Corrock and in the giant slalom to the Austrian Wiltrud Drexel . The slalom ended with another surprise: American Barbara Ann Cochran won 0.02 seconds ahead of French Danièle Debernard , third place went to Florence Steurer .

    In view of the previous season's performances and the training results, the media unanimously expected a Swiss success in the men's downhill, especially since Karl Schranz, his biggest competitor, was canceled. All four Swiss who started were among the top six, and the race ended with a double victory. Bernhard Russi , the 1970 world champion, won by a clear margin over his team-mate Roland Collombin ; the third-placed Austrian Heinrich Messner was almost a second slower. After the first round of the giant slalom, the Norwegian Erik Håker was in the lead , but he was eliminated in the second run. The Italian Gustav Thöni , who won the race ahead of the Swiss Edmund Bruggmann and Werner Mattle, benefited from this . One of the biggest surprises in the history of alpine skiing is the victory of the Spaniard Francisco Fernández Ochoa in the final slalom. 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 .

    Nordic skiing

    The Olympic competitions in Nordic skiing were also considered the 29th Nordic World Ski Championships . Similar to the alpine world, cross-country skiers and ski jumpers received additional world championship medals. In contrast, the Nordic Combined did not count as a world championship. This regulation was introduced at the first Winter Games in 1924 and lasted until 1980.

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

    The Japanese figured they had the greatest chance of winning medals in ski jumping competitions. Her hopes rested above all on Yukio Kasaya , who showed outstanding performances at the Four Hills Tournament 1971/72 and won the first three competitions in Oberstdorf , Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Innsbruck . He had to forego the sure overall victory and return to Japan before the final competition in Bischofshofen in order to prepare intensively in Sapporo. The strategy paid off: Kasaya won Japan's first gold medal at the winter games on the small hill, ahead of his teammates Akitsugu Konno and Seiji Aochi . Five days later, on the national holiday, the numerous spectators expected a similar success on the big hill. However, strong gusts of wind turned the competition into a lottery. Surprisingly, the little-known Pole Wojciech Fortuna , who only traveled as a substitute, won with the smallest possible lead of 0.1 points over Swiss Walter Steiner . The bronze medal went to Rainer Schmidt from the GDR.

    While ski jumping was a crowd puller, the cross-country skiing races met with 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 Kulakowa , who won the gold medal both over 5 km and over 10 km and with the relay. The men's winners were the Swede Sven-Åke Lundbäck over 15 km, the Russian Vjatscheslaw Wedenin over 30 km, the Norwegian Pål Tyldum over 50 km and the Soviet relay. The third place of the Swiss relay team, which left the Swedes behind in the final sprint, was remarkable.

    In the Nordic Combined, Ulrich Wehling from the GDR , who was only 19 years old, surprisingly won . He was followed by the Finn Rauno Miettinen and another GDR athlete, Karl-Heinz Luck . Franz Keller , the German defending champion and one of the favorites, did not live up to expectations and only achieved 33rd place.


    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 a quarter of an hour 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, Norwegian Magnar Solberg repeated his Olympic victory in 1968, ahead of Hansjörg Knauthe from the GDR and the Swede Lars-Göran Arwidson . None of those who started came through without a shooting error. Just like four years before, the Soviet Union won gold in the relay and relegated Finland and the GDR to the other medal ranks.


    After the first artificial ice rink was opened in Königssee in 1968 , this innovation quickly caught on in bobsleigh . The bobsleighs rode a natural ice rink for the last time at the Winter Olympics. Both races developed into a duel between the Federal German Wolfgang Zimmerer and the Swiss Jean Wicki , the best bobsleigh pilots of recent years. In the first run of the two-man bobsleigh competition, Zimmerer and his brakeman, Peter Utzschneider, gained an unachievable lead of eight tenths of a second, which they safely managed in the three other runs. Wicki and his brakeman Edy Hubacher were overtaken by the second German bobsleigh with Horst Floth and Pepi Bader and had to be content with bronze. During the four-man race, there was heavy snowdrift, 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 evenly and benefited from time-consuming mistakes his competitors made. The Italian Nevio De Zordo's bobsleigh finished the race in second place, ahead of Zimmerer's team. Overall, the time intervals were unusually long.

    ice Hockey

    Since 1924, the Olympic ice hockey tournament had always been rated as a world championship until the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) decided to host both an Olympic tournament and a world championship from 1972 in the same year. 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 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. The twelve best teams from the A and B World Championships in 1971 were eligible to participate . The GDR canceled because the ice hockey subsidy had been significantly reduced after the disappointing performance. So only eleven teams took part in Sapporo.

    As the reigning world champion, the Soviet Union was set for the final round, while the other teams had to qualify in qualifying games. The losers played in group B for places 7 to 11, the winners together with the Soviet Union in group A for medals. Both partial tournaments were played in the "everyone against everyone" system, there was no subsequent knockout round and therefore no actual final. In the A group, the favored Soviets confirmed their role as favorites: With the exception of a draw with Sweden , they had no problems with their opponents. They achieved four clear victories and secured the third Olympic gold medal in a row. The top scorer was Valery Kharlamov with nine goals and seven assists . Somewhat unexpectedly, the silver medal went to the USA team . With a win in the last game against the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia could have won the tournament, but they lost 2: 5, which left them only the bronze medal.

    figure skating

    Soviet Olympic postage stamp with a figure skater

    The figure skating was in a break: The duty will be run exactly as possible in the given figures had been increasingly seen as outdated. In order to increase the attractiveness of the sport for television viewers, the International Skating Union (ISU) decided in 1969 to change the proportion from compulsory to freestyle in the overall rating from 60:40 to 50:50. Nevertheless, excellent compulsory runners still had an advantage. In the women's individual competition, the Austrian Beatrix Schuba developed such a large lead that her Olympic victory was never endangered despite the seventh best freestyle performance; she could even have allowed herself three falls in the freestyle. Silver went to the Canadian Karen Magnussen and bronze to the American Janet Lynn , who had shown much better freestyle performances. Although Sonja Morgenstern from the GDR was the first woman ever to win a triple Salchow in an Olympic competition , this was only enough for her to place 6. The end result met with so much incomprehension among viewers and the media that the ISU unofficially announced an unofficial one for the next season The reform called “Lex Schuba” decided: The obligation was now rated at 40%, the newly introduced short program at 20% and the free program 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 Tschetwerukhin from the Soviet Union won silver with the third-best compulsory performance and the best freestyle. Like four years ago, bronze went to the Frenchman Patrick Péra . There was a Soviet double victory in pair skating: Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanow were just ahead of Lyudmila Smirnova 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 great excitement in the media: Ulanow and Smirnova had fallen in love and were married just five days after the end of the Winter Games.

    Speed ​​skating

    Award 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 the first race over 5000 meters, he won with a clear lead of more than four seconds. On the other hand, a mishap happened to him on the 500-meter sprint course when he fell right at the start and finished third from last. The gold medal was won by the German Erhard Keller , who repeated his Olympic victory in 1968. Schenk overcame the setback quickly and also won the 1500 and 10,000 meters, each with a new Olympic record . Immediately after the winter games, he switched to the newly founded professional International Speed ​​Skating League in order to earn money with advertising.

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


    As with bobsleigh, these Olympic toboggan races were the last on a natural ice rink. The GDR team showed an unprecedented dominance and won eight out of nine medals. In the women's single-seater race, Anna-Maria Müller won ahead of Ute Rührold and Margit Schumann . There was even a quadruple victory in the men's single-seater ( 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 the two-seater at the same time as Horst Hörnlein and Reinhard Bredow , while Bonsack and Fiedler took bronze. This tie induced the FIL tobogganing association to measure the running times to the nearest thousandths of a second from 1976 onwards.

    The competition initially suspected extremely harsh training conditions or unfair methods such as heating the runners as reasons for the superiority of the tobogganers from the GDR. In fact, the successes were mainly due to technical advances in materials. While conventional “off the peg” sledges with canvas seats were still used in the West, the GDR tobogganers used models that had been developed at 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 runners made from novel alloys. In addition, the most favorable driving posture was determined in a wind tunnel .

    Outstanding athletes and achievements

    The most successful participants
    rank athlete country sport gold silver bronze total
    1 Galina Kulakova Soviet Union 1955Soviet Union Soviet Union Cross-country skiing 3 - - 3
    Ard Schenk NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands Speed ​​skating 3 - - 3
    3 Vyacheslav Vedenin Soviet Union 1955Soviet Union Soviet Union Cross-country skiing 2 - 1 3
    4th Marie-Theres Nadig SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland Alpine skiing 2 - - 2
    5 Pål Tyldum NorwayNorway 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 Kulakowa , who each celebrated three victories. At 13 years and 28 days, the Soviet figure skater Marina Sanaja was the youngest participant in this Winter Games. She finished 18th in the individual competition and was second to last. The oldest participant at 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. Urine samples had to be given at random from the top three in each discipline and two players from both teams after each ice hockey game. On February 9, the IOC reported what was supposed to be the first doping case at the Winter Games: the German ice hockey player Alois Schloder had been shown to have taken a stimulant containing ephedrine , which resulted in his exclusion from the tournament. However, the drug had been prescribed to him shortly before 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 Cup 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 peace". However, in the GDR by 1968 at the latest, the use of anabolic-androgenic substances had established itself in the entire high-performance sector of the German Gymnastics and Sports Association . The number of athletes who may have been doped cannot be determined. Striking are the marked increases in performance, which cannot be explained solely by technical innovations such as in luge.

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


    3713 media representatives reported from Sapporo: 1044 press journalists and photographers, 163 representatives from news agencies, 667 radio and television journalists, 178 technicians for the official documentary and 1,075 TV technicians. This meant that over a thousand more press accreditations had to be awarded than in Grenoble, which was primarily due to the marked increase in the number of 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. For the Japanese journalists, two large apartment buildings of the state housing association Nihon Jūtaku Kōdan were available in the city center .

    Nippon Telegraph and Telephone was responsible for the entire data processing and thus replaced the previous monopoly provider IBM , which had been active since the first use of computers at the 1960 Winter Games . The data center was housed in a new building in the city center. The public service broadcaster NHK was responsible for the production of television broadcasts and the technical services for those foreign broadcasters that had acquired broadcasting rights. For the exclusive rights in the USA, NBC transferred US $ 6.401 million (today, adjusted for inflation, this corresponds to around EUR 32.9 million). The European Broadcasting Union paid $ 1.233 million (€ 6.3 million) for the rights in 23 Western European countries, the NHK $ 530,000 (€ 2.7 million) for Japan. In total, the broadcast rights cost $ 8.475 million (€ 43.6 million), more than three times the amount in 1968. The total duration of the television broadcasts in full color for the first time 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 broadcasts for two weeks. The opinion was widespread that the "aged millionaire" Avery Brundage had conspired with the Communists and that Schranz "[sacrificed] on the altar of a long-lying amateurism". Calls from the Kleine Zeitung and from Education Minister Fred Sinowatz that the entire Austrian delegation should leave early in protest went unheard, especially since Schranz himself refused to take such a drastic step. On February 8, he landed at Vienna International Airport , where he was greeted by a crowd of people who were euphoric by the news. He drove into the city center in Sinowatz's company car, with numerous people standing in line at the roadside. On Ballhausplatz arrived, he went along with Chancellor Bruno Kreisky on the balcony of the Chancellery to be feted by the cheering crowd. The police estimated that around 87,000 people attended the return staged as a hero's reception. Similar scenes were repeated a day later in Innsbruck . The athletes who remained in Sapporo were under massive public pressure and received numerous threatening letters. The only Austrian gold medal by Beatrix Schuba was ridiculed as "Judas Gold" by an unsolidary "traitor". No reception for the figure skater had been planned in her hometown of Vienna , which is why Linz stepped in at short notice.

    The Switzerland was more successful than ever before in Sapporo and was classified in the medal as the third-best team. 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 sports structures , accompanied by the introduction of modern management methods in the associations, targeted promotion of young talent and the establishment of Schweizer Sporthilfe . Adolf Ogi , the technical director of the Swiss Ski Association, is considered to be the key figure of 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. This made it possible to optimally adapt the ski wax mixtures from Toko to the conditions. Such meticulous preparation is common today, but it was revolutionary back then. During the "golden days of Sapporo", Ogi staged a media-effective staging and achieved such a high level of awareness 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 the election to the Federal Council .

    With 14 medals, the GDR provided the second best team. The press cheered the successes and at the same time railed against journalists from the Federal Republic . The Sportecho described attempts by the West German media to come into contact with GDR athletes as "dirty craft". Another accusation was that they were “pioneers of political intrigue, deliberate slander and gross agitation”. According to a report by the Federal Intelligence Service , the SED party leadership was nevertheless dissatisfied with the effect of the propaganda: the population was happy about the successes, but did not recognize sufficiently that they were based on the "superiority of socialism". Because of Sapporo's long distance, the propaganda efforts were mainly aimed at the upcoming summer games at the “ class enemy ” in Munich . The German athletes, who won five medals, performed below expectations. The time attributed this to the fact that the athletes were, curiously, exposed to greater pressure to perform due to the increased donations from the German Sports Aid Foundation . Johann Baptist Gradl , the chairman of the Board of Trustees Indivisible Germany , 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 Winter Games in Sapporo 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 Olympic Games". The event enabled her to accelerate its growth and urbanization, which is mainly due to the numerous new infrastructures such as roads, subway and sports facilities. With the Winter Games, Sapporo acquired the image of a young and cosmopolitan city. The tourist attraction increased, especially in the winter season. This is especially true of the Sapporo Snow Festival , which took place 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 impact on the environment to be relatively minor and described the 1972 Winter Games as the first in which environmental issues were actually taken into account. In the case of the downhill slopes on the Eniwa , however, this only applies to a limited extent: no sooner were the Olympic races over than the demolition of all the facilities that had only been used for one year. The subsequent reforestation program lasted until 1986. Four decades after the Winter Games, local media reported that the aisles were now overgrown, but that the new forest still resembles a plantation and it will probably take a hundred years before the natural state is fully restored.

    Numerous important sporting events have taken place in Sapporo since 1972. These include the Winter Asian Games in 1986, 1990 and 2017 as well as the Nordic World Ski Championships in 2007 . Both ski jumps are regularly the venue 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 view of the damage caused by the Hokkaidō earthquake in 2018 , the city officially withdrew its candidacy on September 17, 2018, but remains interested in hosting it in 2030.


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    • Ernst Huberty , Willy B. Wange: The Olympic Games - Munich, Augsburg, Kiel, Sapporo . Lingen Verlag, Cologne 1972.
    • Various Authors: Sapporo72 . Ed .: Swiss Olympic Comité . Bern 1972.
    • Various Authors: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement . Ed .: John E. Findling, Kimberly D. Pelle. Greenwood Press, Westport (Connecticut) 2004, ISBN 0-313-32278-3 .
    • Official report. (PDF, 43.3 MB) Organizing Committee of the XI. Olympic Winter Games 1972, 1973, accessed on September 15, 2018 (English / French, the page numbers refer to the 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 as of February 1, 1972 to euros (taking into account inflation up to September 2018) using the past calculator. fxtop.com, accessed September 15, 2018 .
    2. ↑ The only exception was the Tsukisamu sports hall , which was only ready for occupancy in November 1971.
    3. At this point, Denver was officially designated the next venue. After a number of technical and financial problems during the preparation, a committee forced a referendum. In November 1972, the voters of the state of Colorado spoke out against hosting the Winter Games, whereupon Innsbruck stepped in as a replacement location.
    This article was added to the list of excellent articles in this version on November 14, 2018 .