The Winter Olympic Games were first held in 1924 in Chamonix, France, marking the beginning of a tradition of holding the games once every four years. The games have evolved and expanded from the original five sports to fifteen sports organized into several disciplines. Until 1992, the Winter Olympic Games were held the same year as the Summer Olympic Games. However, beginning in 1994, the games have been held two years apart. Since its inception, there have been 22 Winter Olympic Games hosted by a total 19 cities around the globe. The games have been hosted mainly in Europe, North America, and Asia.
Who Has Hosted the Most Winter Olympic Games?
The United States has hosted the winter Olympic Games four times, which is more than any other country. The events have been held in three different cities. Lake Placid, New York hosted the first ever Winter Games in North America, held in 1932 between February 9 and February 15. Lake Placid hosted the Winter Games again in 1980, becoming one of two cities to host the event twice, the other being St. Moritz, Switzerland. The games were held in the US for a second time in 1960 in Squaw Valley, California, while Salt Lake City, Utah hosted the 2002 games.
France was the first country to host the Winter Olympic Games, in Chamonix in 1924. France has hosted the games three times in three different cities. Grenoble was the second French city to host the Winter Games, holding the event in 1968. Coincidentally, Norway won the highest number of medals in both the 1924 and 1968 games. Albertville became the third city in France to host the Winter Games in 1992, with 1,800 athletes competing in 57 events.
Canada, Italy, Japan, and Norway have each hosted the Winter Olympic Games twice, but in different cities. In Canada, Calgary hosted the 1988 games, while Vancouver hosted the 2010 games. The Italian cities of Cortina d’Ampezzo and Torino hosted the 1956 and 2006 Winter Games, respectively. In Japan, Sapporo was the first to host the winter games in 1972, followed by Nagano in 1998. Oslo and Lillehammer are the only two Norwegian cities to host the games in 1952 and 1994, respectively.
Switzerland and Austria have also hosted the Winter Olympic Games twice, each time in the same respective city. St. Moritz, Switzerland hosted the 1928 and 1948 Winter Games, the first city to hold the event twice. Innsbruck, Austria became the second city to hold the games twice after hosting the 1964 and 1974 Winter Games. Three countries have hosted the games only once: Germany (Garmisch-Partenkirchen); Yugoslavia (Sarajevo); and Russia (Sochi).
Cities Who Have Hosted the Winter Olympic Games More than Once
A number of cities have hosted the winter olympics more than once. These cities are St. Moritz, Switzerland, who has hosted twice in 1928 and 1946, Lake Placid, United States, who hosted twice in both 1932 and 1980, and Innsbruck, Austria, who hosted in the years 1964 and 1976.
Future Host Cities
The next Winter Olympic Games will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018, while the 2022 games will be held in Beijing, China. Host cities are selected through a process that lasts about two years. Cities are required to submit applications to become a host city, and the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) then shortlists cities upon the recommendation of a group that reviews applications. The Evaluation Commission investigates cities before submitting a final short list of cities to be considered for selection. The host city is picked during the IOC session.