The day when Yugoslavia was the center of world sport: 35 years ago the Olympic games were opened in Sarajevo (VIDEO)

It was the first Winter Olympics held in a socialist country

On February 8, exactly the age of 35, began the 14th Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo. The town surrounded by the magnificent mountains of Jahorina, Bjelasnica, Igman got to organize the Olympic games. It was competing with Japanese Sapporo and Sweedish Goteborg, and the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina became the center of the world and the foundation to all future winter games. 

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It was the first Winter Olympics in a socialist country and the result of seven years of preparations after Sarajevo was chosen in May 1978 as a host. Voting proved convincing because the city on Miljacka river got 36 votes out of the possible 39.

Printksin: Youtube/Nacholympic

In addition to Sarajevo and Yugoslavia, Sweden, Japan, then Czechoslovakia and France were candidates. First, the French and Czechoslovakians gave up, and the fight remained between the three countries. Thousands of articles were written for the organization of the Olympic Games. The words of the famous English reporter, Pet Besford are still remembered to this day:

"If you choose Sapporo, the Japanese will offer you an airplane to jump to Tokyo. If you choose to go to Gothenburg, the Swedes will allow you to see the fjords and ice sands, if your choice is Yugoslavia and Sarajevo, you will be greeted with wide and sincere hearts, warm, humane, with its mountains and snow terrains".

After 35 years, besides nostalgia, the 14th Winter Olympics remain memorable for several achievements and interesting things.

The legendary Jure Franko became the first Yugoslav who won the medal at the Winter Olympics. Austria performed badly, winning only one bronze. Senegalese Lamine Guèye in Sarajevo became the first African-born black boy to compete in skiing at the Winter Olympics.

The Olympic flame was lit by the legendary Sanda Dubravcic, and the mascot was Vucko, the creation of Slovene Joze Trobec, which 35 years later remained the symbol of Sarajevo.

The fairy tale in the city on Miljacka river lasted from February 8 to 19. The games were the opportunity to present the socialist government of the former Yugoslavia in the best possible way, showing that the great economic crisis didn't disturb SFRY at the beginning of the eighties.

Foto: Guliver/Getty Images Europe

Large funds were spent, a large number of imposing buildings and other infrastructure were built. In this, the authorities had the support of the people of Sarajevo, and even before the games even began, there was an increase of interest in winter sports.

In addition, the arrival of world-renowned celebrities marked Sarajevo forever on the map. The biggest star of the then Hollywood Kirk Douglas was one of the Olympic Games guests.

Foto: Guliver/Getty Images Europe

However, 35 years later, all buildings that were built are abandoned and are in a disastrous state.

After three decades, the bob track has completely lost its purpose. Back then there were competitors from 49 countries, and tens of thousands of fans came to cheer for them, who tried to do as much as 100 kilometers per hour on a 1.3-kilometer track. 

Foto: Profimedia

The Olympic fields became war fronts, and the world looked at Sarajevo once again. But, instead of bobsleighs and ice skating, the TVs showed scenes of destruction and victims. The Olympic complex was far less important than food, water, and medications. No one was thinking about that, but it remained as a surreal memory of better times - writes the blogger Nate Robert, and adds:

Foto: Profimedia

- Today, Trebevic is a completely deserted place. Vegetation almost completely conquered the tracts which are now covered with graffiti. Snakes crawling across the tracks are really unusual. Demolished walls which are now around it are there for tourists and photographers who find a good angle for taking photos, and a few stray dogs can "drop in" the photo.

(Telegraf.co.uk / Klix.ba)

Tags: Balkan, Balkan news, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Daily news, disaster, East Europe, famous, Sarajevo, sports, War, War in Bosnia, Winter Olympic Games, Winter Sports, Yugoslavia
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