Allow Me To Change Your Mind: Winter Olympics


John Huber, Reporter

Now that we’re past the day of love, I am particularly invested in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. These Olympics do have their fair share of controversies but, before we discuss that, let’s see where this winter sports event originated.

The idea goes back to 1901 with the Nordic games which continued until 1926. There were attempts to integrate winter sports into the 1908 games in London, but those attempts were unsuccessful. Another attempt was made in 1912 for the games in Stockholm but was opposed to protect the integrity of the Nordic games. A winter sports week was going to be held during the 1916 games in Berlin but was cancelled due to World War I.

In 1920, figure skating and ice hockey were included in the summer games in Antwerp, Belgium. It wasn’t until 1924 when an extended winter sports week was hosted in France (which was hosting the summer Olympics that year in Paris). This was the first winter Olympics to take place in Chamonix and would go uninterrupted until World War II when the 1940 winter games originally hosted in Sapporo, Japan and 1944 games hosted by Cortina D’Ampezzo were cancelled.

These games wouldn’t resume until 1948 when St. Moritz, Switzerland hosted the games for a second time in 1948. Cortina would later get the games in 1956 while Sapporo got the games in 1972. The host city after Sapporo was supposed to be Denver, Colorado, an event teased during the closing ceremonies but scrapped because public funding was vetoed by a 3:2 margin. The 1976 winter games went to Innsbruck, Austria 12 years after it last hosted the games in 1964 even after Salt Lake City (2002 hosts) and Vancouver (2010 hosts) volunteered to host the games in Denver’s place.

In between the Sarajevo games of 1984 and the Calgary games of 1988, an IOC session was held in 1986 where the winter Olympics were changed from being held during the same year as the summer games to alternating two years and coinciding with the FIFA World Cup. This change wasn’t impacted until the early 1990s with the 1992 games in Albertville, France (the last games held the same year as the summer games) and the 1994 games in Lillehammer, Norway (the first to be held separately from the summer games). As for the current host of these winter games, Beijing was chosen in 2015, beating out Almaty, Kazakhstan, 44 votes to 40.

So, allow me to Change Your Mind!

Let me get this out of the way first. I like the winter games as I think they are a neat variant to the summer games. However, it feels like the controversies surrounding the games can overshadow the games themselves.

This example is prominent with China as hosts, as various countries have issued diplomatic boycotts because China’s policies and actions have gained it a bad reputation in some parts of the world. These opinions are not wrong as they provide the opportunity to speak out against these actions and bring light to a dark side of the respective country.

My problem is that the political stuff can overshadow the games and I can’t stand that.

I do feel this matter needs to be addressed; however, there is a time and place for that and I do not think athletes competing in a near century-old tradition should be the basis for political conflict. The Olympics are supposed to be a peace-loving gesture to the world, showing the culture and spirit of the country hosting them. Even if a country is at odds with the host country, it should be water under the bridge until the games are over. Then, and only then, can people complain about that country. It doesn’t matter who is right, who’s wrong, who should host these games and who should not.

I apologize if I sound like I’m angry or upset as to how the games are being treated in a modern-day environment. Even if these problems are present within the host country, their actions in the past should determine how they are seen by the world. A great deal of pride is put on the Olympics host country and, if we don’t exactly agree on that country’s actions in the past, politicizing everything that happens in the world has become tired and worn. It’s just an excuse to look for a fight.

The actions China has taken should not change the fact that it has the same opportunities to host as any other nation in the world. Once again, I reiterate that the actions China has taken in the past should be mentioned and discussed but it is not fair to judge a host nation on those alone during these games.