1998 Winter Olympics

Facts

Competition type Olympic Games
Host city (Venues)
Opening ceremony 7 February
Closing ceremony 22 February
Competition dates 7 – 22 February
OCOG Nagano Organizing Committee for the Olympic Winter Games of 1998
Participants 2180 from 72 countries
Medal events 68 in 14 disciplines

Overview

It had been 26 years since the Olympic Winter Games had been held in the Orient, those also in Japan at Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido. Nagano had been an “upset” choice over the more favored selections of Salt Lake City and Östersund. But the Japanese typically put on a wonderful show. And it was much quieter in Nagano – there was no Tonya or Nancy for the locust-like media to descend upon.

The Games were severely hampered, however, by the weather of Nagano Prefecture. Snow, rain and fog played havoc with the alpine skiing schedule, causing the men’s downhill, one of the feature events of the Games, to be cancelled and re-scheduled four times. Going into the second week of the Olympics, there was some concern that the alpine skiing schedule could not be finished before the Closing Ceremony. One run of the four-man bobsled also had to be omitted because of weather.

A number of new events made their Olympic début in Nagano, probably foremost among these being women’s ice hockey, which was won by the United States team in a mild upset over the favored Canadians. Snowboarding and curling also were new to the program. Snowboarding had four events – men’s and women’s halfpipe and giant slalom. In the men’s giant slalom, the biggest controversy of the Nagano Olympics occurred when Canadian Ross Rebagliati won the gold medal, only to be disqualified two days later when his doping test came back positive for marijuana. He and the Canadian team appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Rebagliati was reinstated, and allowed to keep his gold medal.

In men’s ice hockey, the big story was the presence of the top professional players in the world for the first time ever. The National Hockey League (NHL) closed down its mid-season schedule for two weeks to allow all the pros to represent their countries, reminiscent of the “Dream Team” of NBA players at Barcelona. The difference in ice hockey, however, was that the top players were not solely from one nation, but were spread among several hockey powers – Canada, United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic. Canada looked to restore its lost dominance in the sport by having its pros bring back a gold medal, but it was not to be. The two favorites, the United States and Canada, went out early, and neither won a medal. The final came down to Russia against the Czech Republic, and the Czechs won in a slight upset, aided by the superb goaltending of Dominik Hašek of the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL. Led by Hašek, the Czech team defeated successively the three greatest hockey nations in Olympic history – Canada, Russia, and the United States.

Norway’s Bjørn Dæhlie added to his list of Olympic records by winning four medals and three golds, to bring his overall Olympic total to 12 medals and 8 gold medals, all records for the Olympic Winter Games. Russia’s Larisa Lazutina won the most medals at Nagano, with five in women’s nordic skiing. She and Dæhlie both won three gold medals, the only athletes to pull off the trifecta in Nagano.

Also dominant at Nagano were the Dutch speed skaters, whose men won nine of 15 Olympic medals, and four events. Marianne Timmer also added two golds in the women’s 1,000 and 1,500. Germany’s Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann won three medals in speed skating, bringing her Olympic career total to eight, equalling the Olympic speed skating record of her countrywoman Karia Kania.

In alpine skiing, Katja Seizinger (GER) won three medals, the third consecutive Olympic Winter Games at which she had won alpine medals, equalling the mark of Alberto Tomba of Italy. Tomba also competed at Nagano, but failed to finish in both the giant slalom and slalom, ending his remarkable Olympic career that began in 1988 at Calgary.

Bid process

Bid voting at the 97th IOC Session in Birmingham, England on 15 June 1991.

Round 1 Tiebreak Round 2 Round 3 Round 4
Nagano Japan 21 30 36 46
Salt Lake City, Utah United States 15 59 27 29 42
Östersund Sweden 18 25 23
Jaca Spain 19 5
Aosta Italy 15 29

Ceremonies

Officially opened by Akihito, Emperor of Japan (Emperor)
Torchbearer(s) Midori Ito (Lit flame), Takanori Kono
Taker of the Athlete's Oath Kenji Ogiwara
Taker of the Official's Oath Junko Ueno
Flagbearers Full list
Olympic Flag Bearers Seiko Hashimoto, Chiharu Igaya, Yukio Kasaya, Yoshihiro Kitazawa, Yuko Otaka, Akitsugu Konno, Hatsue Nagakubo-Takamizawa, Hiromi Yamamoto

Medal Disciplines

Alpine Skiing Figure Skating Short Track Speed Skating
Biathlon Freestyle Skiing Ski Jumping
Bobsleigh Ice Hockey Snowboarding
Cross Country Skiing Luge Speed Skating
Curling Nordic Combined

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Germany GER 12 9 8 29
Norway NOR 10 10 5 25
Russian Federation RUS 9 6 3 18
Canada CAN 6 5 4 15
United States USA 6 3 4 13
Netherlands NED 5 4 2 11
Japan JPN 5 1 4 10
Austria AUT 3 5 9 17
Republic of Korea KOR 3 1 2 6
Italy ITA 2 6 2 10
Finland FIN 2 4 6 12
Switzerland SUI 2 2 3 7
France FRA 2 1 5 8
Czech Republic CZE 1 1 1 3
Bulgaria BUL 1 0 0 1
People's Republic of China CHN 0 6 2 8
Sweden SWE 0 2 1 3
Denmark DEN 0 1 0 1
Ukraine UKR 0 1 0 1
Belarus BLR 0 0 2 2
Kazakhstan KAZ 0 0 2 2
Australia AUS 0 0 1 1
Belgium BEL 0 0 1 1
Great Britain GBR 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Larisa Lazutina RUS
EUN
3 1 1 5
Bjørn Dæhlie NOR 3 1 0 4
Olga Danilova RUS
EUN
2 1 0 3
Kazuyoshi Funaki JPN 2 1 0 3
Jeon I-Gyeong KOR 2 0 1 3
Katja Seizinger GER 2 0 1 3
Thomas Alsgaard NOR 2 0 0 2
Bjarte Engen Vik NOR 2 0 0 2
Gianni Romme NED 2 0 0 2
Marianne Timmer NED 2 0 0 2
Hermann Maier AUT 2 0 0 2

All medalists at these Games