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5 Worst Winter Olympic Host Cities of All Time


If it were not for the heightened tensions between North and South Korea, the buildup to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang would be without much controversy. The picturesque area seems to be a perfect fit for the 2018 games and South Korea has built world-class facilities to host the athletes and attendees.

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If no security issues arise, the tension between the two countries will just be a footnote on the history of the games. And Pyeongchang will not make this list of the worst Winter Olympics host cities of all time. It is safe to say that the rest of the world is hoping that it does not join these other cities.

5. Sarajevo, 1984

The first Winter Olympics held in a communist country did not have major issues during the games, but makes this list because all of what happened to all of its Olympic venues after the breakup of Yugoslavia. While most host sites make their Olympic Villages a permanent part of their city, almost all of Sarajevo’s venues were destroyed in the Bosnian War. Some, like the Zetra Ice Hall, have been rebuilt, but the sad state of the city’s Olympic venues is an ongoing story with each Winter games.

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4. Lake Placid, 1980

Lake Placid is best remembered for “The Miracle on Ice,” but what has been forgotten are the lousy accommodations. The athletes were literally housed in a medium-security prison. Construction of the Federal Correctional Institution, Ray Brook (FCI Ray Brook) had just been completed and it served as the Olympic Village before housing inmates later that year. If you commit a federal crime, you may have the “good fortune” of being shipped to FCI Ray Brook and sleeping where an Olympic athlete once slept.

3. Sochi, 2014

Other countries have been banned from completing in the Olympic games. Russia just has the distinction of hosting an Olympics and then being banned from the following games for systemic doping.

2. Denver, 1976

When you bid to host Olympics, you better make sure your constituents are on board. After Denver was selected in 1970 to host the 1976 games, Coloradans began to better understand the high costs of this responsibility, not to mention the impact on the environment. After two years of rumblings, Colorado voters rejected a referendum to provide funding for the games in November 1972. Denver withdrew from hosting a few days later and Innsbruck, Austria, stepped in to host the 1976 games.

1. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 1936

We all know that the 1936 Summer Olympics was held in Berlin. However, we forget that the 1936 Winter Games were held in the German ski town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Granted, Adolf Hitler had not begun annexing Europe and the games were held without major incident, but it’s impossible to put another city at the top of this list. All the other cities and countries on this list had their issues, but they weren’t run by Nazis.

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.