The 1984 Winter Olympics, or Sarajevo ’84 as it is more commonly known, was the first Winter Olympic Games to be hosted in a communist country or in a Slavic speaking nation. Held in February 1984, it was hosted in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. The hosting of the Winter Olympic Games was arguably one of the most significant events in Yugoslavia’s rich history.
These games were significant for many first moments. It was the first Olympic Games to take place in the Balkans since the first ever Olympics which of course originated in Greece. And also, the first Olympic Games under the Presidency of Juan Antonio Samaranch.
It was also the end of The People’s Republic of China’s boycott of the Olympic Games. They had boycotted the games over the controversy surrounding the International Olympic Committee’s recognition of the Republic of China. During these games, the Republic of China (Taiwan) completed as Chinese Taipei for the first time. In fact, the Sarajevo Olympics was not boycotted by any nation and was a resounding ‘trouble free’ games. In contrast to the Moscow Olympics before it in 1980, and the Los Angeles Olympics that preceded it in 1984, which were heavily contested.
The famous torch relay started in Olympia and travelled by airplane to Dubrovnik where it travelled over 5000 km through Split, Ljubljana, Zagreb and Sarajevo in the western route and Skopje, Novi Sad, Belgrade and Sarajevo in the east.
The mascot for the 1984 Winter Olympic Games was a little wolf called Vucko. Designed by Slovenian designer Joze Trobec. Thirty years later, the symbols of the Olympics are still present in Sarajevo. The mascot is now the biggest selling souvenir for tourists.
Notable locations throughout the Sarajevo Olympic games are; Kosevo Stadium – used for the opening ceremony, and the famous mountains that surround the city; Bjelasnica, Jahorina, Igman and the Sarajevo Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track at Mt. Trebevic.
An Olympic village was built, and hotels opened up all over Sarajevo. Most notably, the Holiday Inn.
The city infrastructure was heavily invested in renovations. The Baščaršija was given a face-lift and the main streets, facades and transport of the city were rebuilt, restored and enlarged.
The Sarajevo Olympics was covered by over 7,000 journalists and consumed by over 2 billion viewers. Thousands of new jobs were created and $47 million was generated from ticket sales alone.
A decade after the Winter Olympics the conflict ravaged much of the city and killed thousands of civilians. During the early months of the war many Olympic buildings were targeted and destroyed on purpose. Today many of the venues lie in ruin and the investment into the city in the lead up to the Olympics has been squandered.