The 1988 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XV Olympic Winter Games, were a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in Calgary, Alberta and opened by the 23rd Governor General of Canada: Jeanne Sauvé.
1988 was the last year that the Winter Paralympics and the Winter Olympics were held in separate cities; all subsequent Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games have been hosted by the same city, starting with 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. These Winter Olympics were also the last time the teams from both the Soviet Union and East Germany competed as distinct National Olympic Committees or NOCs.
As at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, the Canadian team failed to win a gold medal, matching only former Yugoslavia in the dubious distinction of not having won an Olympic winter gold medal on home soil.
Calgary did finally win the bid for Canada's first Winter Olympics on September 30, 1981. It beat out Falun, Sweden and Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Cortina d'Ampezzo had hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics before. The vote was conducted by the IOC in Baden-Baden, West Germany, at the 84th IOC Session and 11th Olympic Congress. The results can be seen by accessing this web page called the International Olympic Committee Vote History.
|1988 Winter Olympics Bidding Results|
|City||NOC Name||Round 1||Round 2|
All levels of government helped to fund the Games. The federal government, in Ottawa, provided $225 million (note all figures listed in CDN funds, not adjusted for inflation), the province of Alberta paid $125 million and the city of Calgary with $50 million. The American host network, ABC, paid a then record $398 million, while the main host broadcaster, the Canadian CTV television network, paying $45 million for domestic rights. A further $90 million was raised by sponsorships and licenses.
Concern was raised almost from the beginning about the suitability of Calgary hosting the Winter Olympics because of the city's local weather conditions for the month of February. That area of Alberta is plagued unpredictably with a weather phenomenon called a chinook wind, which are periods where the weather becomes extremely unseasonably mild (in the plus Celsius range) in short periods of time. A year prior to the event, the Whit Fraser report hinted that there was a possibility that mild winter weather could cause major problems for the Games. During the Games, there were indeed minor problems--for example, some bobsleigh runs had to be re-done because of sand getting blown onto the bobsleigh track.
This Olympic Torch Relay (with the theme Share the Flame) stands as one of the longest in Olympic history, and especially for the Winter Olympic Games. It was a stark contrast to Canada's first Olympic torch relay for the 1976 Summer Olympics, which started in Ottawa and went directly east to Montreal; this distance (about 775 km) is the shortest in Summer Olympic Games history so far. For Canada's first Winter Olympics, the Olympic torch (modeled after the Calgary Tower) was carried by both famous and ordinary Canadians in a continuous 88-day run across Canada, covering all 10 provinces and 2 territories (Yukon and the Northwest Territories; the territory of Nunavut did not exist until 1999), for a total distance of about 18,000 km. The torch traveled via ordinary running, dog sled, and snowmobile. Citizens won the chance to run a 1 km distance with the Olympic torch by entering a lottery sponsored by Petro Canada.
Organizers and government claimed that the Calgary Olympic Games turned a profit. They declared a surplus of between $90-$150 million, and this money was used to fund the various Olympic venues in Calgary. Ever mindful of the financial disaster of the 1976 Summer Olympics, Calgary organizers attempted to be financially successful, because there was political pressure on them to erase the spectre of a second Canadian Games at a loss. Organizers claimed that their use of these profits for the future Canada Olympic Park and the funding of Canadian athletes through the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA) gave Calgary a lasting legacy and impact on the Canadian sports scene, and also provided funds for the maintenance and upgrading of athletic facilities in Calgary, Banff, and Lake Louise. Well after the Olympics ended, they declared, CODA continued to use its resources to develop resources for Olympic athletes in the city, which included supporting Canada's first high school designed for Olympic calibre athletes, in a partnership with the Calgary Board of Education.
However, a widely cited 1993 audit and independent research conducted by the daily newspaper The Toronto Star in 1999 showed that these financial figures were largely bogus. When announcing these numbers, organizers had removed from their calculations $461 million in subsidies provided by federal, provincial and local governments used mainly for building the games venues. When these government investments were included in the balance sheets, the Calgary Olympics produced a huge financial loss.
There was a substantial social impact as well. From the unprecedented volunteer involvement in staging the Games, a program where ordinary Calgarians could purchase, for $19.88 in the summer of 1986, a brick at the main medal presentation plaza called the Olympic Plaza with their names laser-engraved on it. The involvement of ordinary Calgarians was evident. This was of paramount importance to the organizing committee, OCO'88, as it kept the Games from appearing distant and "out of reach".
In 1999, a bribery scandal hit the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) for the 2002 Winter Olympics. The main focus of that scandal was the tactics used by that organizing committee then to win the bid in Budapest, Hungary, at the 104th IOC Session in 1995. There was talk of stripping the rights of hosting the Games away at the time because of that circumstance. That whole scene played out before the unforeseen 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. on the United States. Calgary then sent an offer to step in to be an alternate host of the 2002 Winter Olympics, if Salt Lake City was unable to host the Games because of both counts.
Calgary tried again to bid for the Winter Olympic Games in 2010, but lost out when the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) chose Vancouver as the city that would be the Canadian bid internationally. Eventually, Vancouver was chosen to host the 2010 Winter Olympics over PyeongChang, Korea, and Salzburg, Austria in July 2003 at the 115th IOC Session in Prague, Czech Republic.
Unfortunately, the host Canadian team failed to win a gold medal in the 1988 Winter Olympics. The Canadian Olympic Committee has pledged to change this at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with a program called Own the Podium - 2010, and the Olympic team's success in Turin 2006 made that seem like a distinct possibility.
The Alberta provincial government, under Ed Stelmach on August 30, 2007, committed CDN$69-million, of the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA) CDN$276-million overall project cost, to construct Canada's first Centre of Sport Excellence. This announcement included the unveiling of a new facility design for Canada Olympic Park (COP) called the Athletic and Ice Complex. Previous governments have already given funds recently to upgrade and/or maintain existing Olympic winter venues in Calgary and Canmore, Alberta in the past. For example, CDN$25.6-million was provided to renovate the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park area, in time for the 2005 Alberta Centennial FIS World Cup event. CDN$600,000 was spent in maintaining the ski jumping venue at Canada Olympic Park http://www.canadaolympicpark.ca/media/release.asp?press=61. On October 5, 2007, the Canadian federal government promised an additional CDN$40-million toward the project, according to an article written by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. http://www.cbc.ca/sports/story/2007/10/05/olympic-park.html
See the medal winners, ordered by sport:
When awarded the games, Calgary had very little in the way of sports infrastructure to host such an event. The following is a list of venues built for the games (see venues below for complete list of all facilities used for the games):
See also: 1988 Winter Olympics medal count.
A record of 57 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) entered athletes at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games.