The 2018 Winter Olympic Games began in PyeongChang, South Korea on Friday with the Opening Ceremonies, marking the 23rd time athletes have competed in the cold-weather Olympic Games.
While the first modern Summer Olympics took place in 1896, there haven’t been as many Winter Olympic Games. That’s because the idea for the first Winter Olympics didn’t come about until the seventh Olympic Congress in June 1921. Scandinavian countries objected to hosting a separate games for winter sports because they had been competing in their own version of the event — known as the Nordic Games — since 1901.
But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ultimately decided to host an “international week of winter sport, part of a celebration of the Games of the VIII Olympiad” in 1924 in Chamonix in the French Alps, which is known now as the first modern Winter Olympics. Sixteen countries were present to compete in 16 events.
In May 1925, the IOC officially designated the Chamonix event as “the first Olympic Winter Games.” Since then, the Winter Olympics have been held every four years, except during World War II in 1940 and 1944. The Summer and Winter Olympic Games were held on the same year until 1992.
Since the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, four new events — mixed-team alpine skiing, men’s and women’s big air snowboarding, mixed doubles in curling and men’s and women’s mass start in long-track speedskating — have been added to the games. At the 2018 Olympic Games, 92 countries will compete in 102 events across 15 sports. Athletes to watch include American speedskater Maame Biney, Nigerian bobsledder Seun Adigun, American alpine skier Lindsey Vonn and Japanese ski jumper Noriaki Kasai.