Winter Olympic Games

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The Winter Olympic Games are a multi-sport event held every four years. The first Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. Some of the original sports were alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, ski jumping, and speed skating. Other events have been added as time went on, and some of them, such as luge, short track speed skating, and freestyle skiing have earned a permanent spot on the Olympic programme. Others, such as speed skiing, bandy, and skijoring were demonstration sports but were never incorporated as Olympic sports.

The Games were held every four years from 1924 until 1936 when they were interrupted by World War II. The Olympics resumed in 1948 and were celebrated every four years until 1992. At that point the governing body for the Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), decided to place the Summer and Winter Games on separate four-year cycles in alternating even-numbered years.

The Winter Games have undergone significant changes since their inception. The rise of television as a global medium for communication has enhanced the profile of the Games. It has also created an income stream, via the sale of broadcast rights and advertising, which has become lucrative for the IOC. This has allowed outside interests, such as television companies and corporate sponsors, to influence the Games. The IOC has had to address several criticisms, internal scandals, and the use of performance enhancing drugs by Winter Olympians. There has been one political boycott of the Winter Olympics. Nations have also used the Winter Games to showcase the claimed superiority of their political systems.

The Winter Olympics have been hosted on three continents, but never in a country in the southern hemisphere. The United States has hosted the Games four times. France has been the host three times. Austria, Canada, Italy, Japan, Norway, and Switzerland have hosted the Games twice. In 2014 Sochi will be the first Russian city to host the Winter Olympics.

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