The International Olympic Committee decided today to separate the Summer and Winter Olympiads after the 1992 Games, breaking a 70-year-old tradition.
The 89-member committee, the supreme Olympic authority, agreed to stage the Winter Games in 1994 and continue thereafter at four-year intervals, midway between the Summer Games, which also are held every four years.
IOC officials said only a handful of members opposed the change, which needed a two-thirds majority for approval.
The change will require a modification of the Olympic charter, which stipulates that Summer and Winter Games must be held in the same year. The Winter Olympics were first organized at Chamonix, France, in 1924, and have since been held in the winter preceding every Summer Olympics.
More Attention Possible
The change was initiated by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch and the 11-member IOC Executive Board. IOC officials said it would in the future concentrate greater attention on the Winter Games, which, until now, had been widely regarded as a less-important preliminary to the Summer Games.
The change will also spread out the heavy organizational load that the IOC has borne every four years. But perhaps most important in the minds of IOC members was the probability that Winter Games held in separate years would command larger revenues from publicity and television rights.
ABC is paying a record $309 million for exclusive live U.S. television rights from the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Canada, and is expected to lose money. For the Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, NBC has paid a minimum of $250 million for U.S. television rights.
Winter Games Sports
The Winter Games feature downhill and cross-country skiing, ski jumping, figure and speed skating, bobsled and luge racing, ice hockey and the biathlon, a combination of skiing and shooting.
The modern Olympic Games began in Athens in 1896, but it was 28 years before a winter sports competition was introduced. Initially, the country staging the Summer Games had a priority right to organize the Winter Games.
Thus, the 1924 Paris Olympics were preceded by the Chamonix Winter Games and the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics by the first Lake Placid, N.Y., Winter Games.
The 1928 Games took place in Amsterdam, and the Dutch, having no mountains, relinquished their right to hold the Winter Games in favor of the Swiss resort of St. Moritz.