Sarajevo: 30 Years After the Olympic Flame Was Extinguished
30 years ago today, the XIV Olympic Winter Games were being held in Sarajevo. After the Olympic Flame was extinguished, a civil war broke out in the early 90’s making this the most rare and tragic story of what happened to a city after the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics.
The 1984 Winter Olympics were awarded to Sarajevo, then a part of the united Yugoslavia, on May 18, 1978. They beat out the other candidates of Sapporo, Japan and Gothenburg, Sweden to become the second consecutive Olympics held in a Communist country following the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
The opening ceremonies were held on February 8, 1984 with 49 nations participating and 1,272 athletes.
Jure Franco won the only medal for Yugoslavia in his home Olympics, winning silver in Men’s Giant Slalom.
The United States scored only 8 medals, 4 gold and 4 silver, while the Soviet Union scored the most medals overall, 25, and East Germany scored the most gold medals with 9. The 1984 Olympic medal table has the full results of all the nations’ medal count.
Closing ceremonies were held on February 19, 1984.
Seven years after the 1984 Olympics, Yugoslavia plunged into the worst civil war in modern history as a series of wars from 1991-2001 tore the country apart.
During the heaviest battles in and around Serajevo between 1992-95, the Olympic structures were used as battlements and storage for fighting and weapons storage.
The bobsled track became an artillery stronghold, the ski jumps were unused though they were the sites of heavy fighting and bare the scars of the war.
The medals stand bares plenty of scars from the years of war after war as Yugoslavia dissolved in bloody conflicts.
The Olympic arena is now the site of a cemetery of crumbling tombstones where countless men, women, and children are buried as a result of the violent war.
To see more pictures of the war torn Olympic sites in Sarajevo, check out the Smithsonian.com.
According to NPR.org, Present day Sarajevo is still a divided city as well as the capital and largest city of the newly established Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The International Olympic Committee has done restoration on some of the Olympic venues though the Olympics returning to Sarajevo is pretty much never going to happen.