Sarajevo's Olympic spirit

The story of the Olympics in Sarajevo started in Athens on May 18, 1978, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) chose Sarajevo over Sapporo and Gothenburg, thereby entrusting the capital city of BiH with hosting the 14th WOG.

2020/02/01

In the lead-up to the games, Sarajevo saw rapid renovations and development: transportation infrastructure was laid out, the neighborhoods of Mojmilo and Dobrinja went up, as did numerous sports facilities (Koševo Stadium, Zetra Hall, ski areas on Bjelašnica, Igman and Jahorina, the bobsled track on Trebević...).

Olympic stars

The 14th WOG officially opened on February 8, 1984 at Koševo Stadium, where the Olympic flame was lit by Yugoslav skater Sanda Dubravčić.

1,272 athletes from 49 countries competed, the largest number in the history of the games, and the IOC declared the Sarajevo Olympics the best-organized games up until that time.

The stars of the 14th WOG were British skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, East German skater Katarina Witt and Slovenian alpine skier Jure Franko, who brought Yugoslavia its first Olympic medal (a silver in the giant slalom), and whom Sarajevans cheered on with the funny slogan: “We love Jurek more than burek!”

Sarajevo was the center of the world that year, and Sarajevans showed their hospitality, they cleared the snow that had suddenly overwhelmed the city..., and one foreign journalist wrote: “They should give all the citizens of Sarajevo a gold medal.”

Olympic Museum

The Olympic Museum of BiH was founded to preserve the memory of the 14th WOG, and from 1984 to 1992 it was housed in the prestigious Vila Mandić in Mejtaš.

During the Siege of Sarajevo (1992-1995), most of the Olympic infrastructure was destroyed, and the Olympic Museum was shelled and set aflame on April 27, 1992.

Still, museum staff and Sarajevans managed to save most of the items and transfer them to the Zetra Olympic Complex.

The museum opened temporarily on February 8, 2004 at Zetra, and the museum’s collection now includes: a numismatic collection of 250 gold coins, Olympic medals and souvenirs, Jure Franko’s skis, posters by Ismar Mujezinović, graphic designs by Andy Warhol, Henry Moore and James Rosenquist; paintings by Mersad Berber and Bekir Misirlić; photos from the 14th WOG, sports equipment, films….

Last year, 35 years after the 14th WOG were held in Sarajevo, the Olympic flame was lit once again, this time for the European Youth Olympic Festival.

EYOF 2019 (Feb. 9-16) brought young athletes from 46 countries to Sarajevo and East Sarajevo, where they competed at renovated Olympic sites and also at some new venues.

And 2020 will see the end of reconstruction work on Vila Mandić, which will again be home to the Olympic Museum of BiH, to testify to the Olympic spirit of Sarajevo, which had the privilege of hosting two major Olympic events.