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11 Feb 1928
St. Moritz 1928

The first true Olympic Winter Games

“Winter sports were included on the Olympic Charter in 1894 along with other sports, and I have worked tirelessly ever since to introduce them on the programme, albeit mindful of the material difficulties that need to be overcome in order to achieve that,” wrote Pierre de Coubertin, whose hard work finally came to fruition in the 1920s.

Organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and running from 24 January to 4 February 1924, La semaine international des sports d’hiver de Chamonix (the Chamonix International Winter Sports Week) proved to be hugely popular with competitors and spectators alike, with the athletes of Scandinavia, and Norway in particular, taking the limelight.

The decision to found the Olympic Winter Games proper was taken at the VIII Olympic Congress in Prague (CZE) in June 1925, a gathering at which Coubertin retired as IOC President, making way for Henri de Baillet-Latour of Belgium.

It was decided that the Winter Games would be held every four years in the same year as the Summer Games, with skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, bobsleigh and tobogganing all being granted Olympic status. IOC delegates also agreed that, where possible, the Winter Games should be staged in the same country as the corresponding Summer Games.


The 1928 Olympic Summer Games had been awarded to the Dutch capital of Amsterdam in 1921. But with the Netherlands conspicuously lacking any mountains, Switzerland began pondering the option of bidding for the Winter Games of the IX Olympiad, should the decision be made to stage them on a quadrennial basis. No sooner was that decision taken in Prague in 1925 than Baron de Blonay, Switzerland’s IOC delegate, presented his country’s bid, which was duly accepted.

Davos, Engelberg and St Moritz were the three Swiss resorts in the running to host what would be the second Olympic Winter Games, with the Chamonix International Winter Sports Week in 1924 having retrospectively been designated by the IOC as the first. The candidate cities were formally presented by the Swiss Olympic Committee (COS) to the IOC, which declared St Moritz the winner at its May 1926 session in Lisbon (POR).

Athletes from 25 countries competed at St Moritz 1928, with Argentina, Japan, the Netherlands, Mexico, Romania, Luxembourg and Estonia all making their Winter Games debuts along with Germany, who had decided not to send athletes to Chamonix in 1924. In total 464 athletes took part, 26 of them women.

The nine-day programme included 13 events in eight sports: ice hockey, speed skating, figure skating, cross-country skiing, tobogganing, bobsleigh, Nordic combined and ski jumping. Tobogganing was making its first appearance, while curling, which had been on the schedule at Chamonix 1924, was omitted. The all-round speed skating event was also dropped, and military patrol featured as a demonstration sport, as did skijoring (skiers with horse-drawn harnesses), which made its one and only Olympic appearance at St Moritz 1928.
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