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Daily CSR
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Evolution of Winter Olympics: Athlete Innovation, Media Coverage, and Spectator Experience


Evolution of Winter Olympics: Athlete Innovation, Media Coverage, and Spectator Experience
As athletes marched through the streets of Chamonix, a small French Alpine town, in January 1924, little did they know it marked the humble beginnings of what would evolve into the world's premier winter sports extravaganza.
The 'International Winter Sports Week' saw only 258 competitors gather under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), against the breathtaking backdrop of Mont-Blanc. A century later, the inaugural Olympic Winter Games still resonate, not solely for their sporting breakthroughs but also for setting a precedent in event management that leaves a lasting impact for future generations.
Reflecting on the past 100 years since Chamonix 1924, it's evident how hosting the Winter Olympics has evolved. The selection process, once a comparatively swift affair, now demands years of meticulous planning. Chamonix Mont-Blanc's designation as the first host, decided in a 1921 IOC Session, contrasts sharply with the extensive lead time now typical for host cities.
For instance, Milano Cortina's successful bid for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games underscores the rigorous modern process. It involved an intricate two-year journey, including consultations, a Candidature phase, and a final selection process before the IOC's endorsement at the 134th Session.
Beyond the spectacle, there's a growing emphasis on sustainability. IOC President Thomas Bach underscored this in a December 2023 article in the Olympic Review magazine, noting the imperative to address climate change's impact on winter sports. The IOC's commitment to reducing environmental footprints and exploring sustainable solutions reflects a crucial evolution in Olympic ideals.

Current discussions with the IOC regarding potential hosts for the 2030, 2034, and 2038 Winter Games emphasize sustainability as a central focus. Many proposed permanent venues are already operational, hosting high-level competitions, while the IOC's Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games advocates for snow competition venues that remain climate reliable for decades to come.
Recent studies reveal that 89 percent of permanent venues from past Olympic Winter Games are still in use, including the historic Le Mont ski jumping ramp at the Glacier des Bossons and the Stade Olympique de Chamonix from the 1924 Chamonix Games, which hosted various sports events along with the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
The scope of sports events has expanded significantly since Chamonix 1924, where medals were contested across 16 events in five sports over 11 days. Today, the Winter Olympics typically span 16 days with participation from over 90 National Olympic Committees, showcasing 116 medal events across 16 disciplines in eight sports for the upcoming Milano-Cortina Games.
As the Olympics progress towards gender equality, Milano-Cortina 2026 expects around 2,900 athletes to compete, with 47 percent being female, in contrast to the 4.3 percent female participation in Chamonix 1924.
While Chamonix 1924 featured three snow venues, recent editions have adopted mountain hubs for snow sports, often holding ice competitions in urban centers. Technological and methodological advancements over the past century have significantly enhanced athlete safety and performance, from protective gear to equipment innovations, marking a substantial evolution in winter sports.
Organizers planning an Olympics must consider various factors such as constructing higher ski jumps, designing bobsleigh courses with sharper turns, and ensuring indoor arenas can accommodate thousands of fans for skating, curling, and ice hockey competitions.
In a December 2023 article in the IOC’s Olympic Review magazine, President Bach emphasized how athletes continually innovate and push the limits of skiing and skating, achieving greater speeds and heights. This evolution began shortly after the conclusion of the Chamonix 1924 Games, as discussions for subsequent Winter Olympics commenced.
While Chamonix 1924 drew an estimated total attendance of 10,000 spectators, a staggering 1.5 million tickets were sold for sports events at the Vancouver 2010 Games, illustrating the growth in audience engagement over the decades.
Coverage of the Winter Olympics has evolved significantly. Initially limited to a few minutes of black and white film footage from Chamonix 1924, coverage expanded with newspaper articles and sporadic radio broadcasts. The first televised Winter Games occurred at Grenoble 1968, followed by the advent of internet livestreams during the Turin 2006 edition, further expanding accessibility to global audiences.
The Beijing 2022 Games witnessed over two billion broadcast viewers and 3.2 billion engagements on official @Olympics social media handles. With comprehensive coverage captured and analyzed by broadcasters and fans alike, the visual presentation of the Games has become a crucial consideration for hosts. However, amidst these changes, the enduring joy on the faces of successful athletes and fortunate spectators remains a constant, perpetuating the spirit of the Olympic Games.