Newspaper Name: Calgary Herald
Province: Alberta
Town(s) Served: Calgary
Published: 02/29/1988
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The 1988 Winter Olympics thrust Canada onto the world stage, demonstrating that our country could host an international sporting event the likes of which hadn’t been seen before. The impacts of these Games were many:
• The 1988 staging of the Games showed that the Winter Olympics could grow in size; a record 57 countries competed.
• They proved that hosting the Olympics could be a profitable venture for a city and country.
• They were the first Games to have large TV revenue attached to them; broadcast rights were sold for more than $324 million while just eight years earlier in the U.S. (the Lake Placid Games), the broadcast rights earned just over $20 million.
• These were also the first Games to really show how the Olympics could capitalize on volunteers. More than 22,000 people applied for 9,400 volunteer jobs.
• The 1988 Games also set the stage for “long” torch runs; this one went on for 88 days from coast to coast to coast and became an example of how a torch run could unite a host country and bolster nation-wide support.
• Five permanent venues were built with specific winter sports in mind (including speed skating, luge, bobsleigh and Nordic events); the venues became national centres of development and excellence that Olympic experts say contributed to the record 26 medals won by Canadians the next time the country hosted the Winter Olympics (in Vancouver in 2010.)
• This event also saw the introduction of demonstration events such as curling, freestyle skiing and short-track speed skating – all of which went on to become full-fledged Olympic sports, which Canadian athletes have dominated in following years.
• Prior to the 1988 Games, the Winter Olympics were often thought of as a poorer, second cousin to the Summer Olympics. The 1988 Games helped change that perception by hosting more sports, growing in length, becoming profitable, attracting more than 20 major sponsors and increasing television viewership.
This particular front page and story were chosen because they represent the culmination of an Olympics that was successful on all of the above points and showed to the world that Canada knew how to host world-class sporting events.