Fairy tale of Sarajevo 1984

1978 at 80th session of Olympic committee in Athens, it was announced: Sarajevo would be host of Winter Olympic Games 1984. That was a small miracle for Sarajevo as it was competing with Sapporo, Japan and  Gothenburg, Sweden, it was the first Winter Olympic Games held in a socialist state and in a Slavic language-speaking country, and also the first Olympics to take place in the Balkans since the first Olympic Games in Athens. And whit this, fairy tale of Sarajevo 1984 starts!

So, Sarajevo had 5 years to prepare for this big international event.

Preparations began immediately. Everyone got involved; the City, the Republic and the whole former Yugoslavia as well as ordinary citizens who wanted to contribute. There were 10,450 volunteers, 4,000 companies and over one million individual donors involved in organization of the Games. This was story which would change and mark the history of Sarajevo.

It’s 1984, everybody waits for 8th February and opening ceremony, and following 10 days to host the best athletes from all around the world.

Fact about Sarajevo: normally in Sarajevo from December to March it’s snowing, sometimes even starts in October, there were times snowing in May so in February it was always covered with snow.

Back to story and beginning of February 1984, counting days till opening ceremony, weather – more like spring! Yes, not even one snowflake! People were going all around city, asking just one question: “Is it snowing yet?”, looking into sky, waiting for snow, for some hint that would be snowing. But no, not even of hint.

7th February 1984, the day before opening, still no snow, nice warm weather. Olympic village, hotels, restaurants and bars opened, all structures needed for the winter Olympics were built on the mountains Jahorina, Bjelašnica, Igman, and Trebević, everything was ready to host athletes, supporters, everyone who came to Sarajevo for this event, including some famous people like Kirk Douglas, yes that Kirk Douglas, famous Hollywood actor and producer.

Everybody were in the city, every person needed to be outside, welcoming people. Sarajevo was shining, restaurants and bars were working all night, people were smiling, laughing… but still worried about Winter games without snow, would games be cancelled, postponed…

If You ask anyone, who was in Sarajevo on evening of 7th February, they would know exactly where they were when started snowing… As it was something that for days people of Sarajevo were looking for, praying for.

It was magical! It was MIRACLE!

But like every fairy tale, it has a twist.

Snow was falling, beautiful big white snowflakes, kind that does not dissolve immediately. It was snowing more and more… so in short time it was already one meter of snow. Streets was covered with snow. People and cars were stuck. First, everyone was worried there wouldn’t be snow… Now there were too much snow.

From international Olympic committee they were asking around how Sarajevo would respond for this, would everything be ready for opening ceremony, how would slopes and trails be prepared for competition, as there should be thousands of people to help, and where to find them at night?! According to witnesses, Branko Mikulić, presiding officer of the Bosnian Olympic Committee replied to them: “What do you think, will 5000 be enough?”

By radio and TV station, people were invited to help. Thousands responded in a seconds and worked through the night, including the Yugoslav People’s Army. Till morning everything was ready for the biggest moment of Sarajevo! Koševo stadium was ready for opening ceremony, slopes and trails for competitors, the city clean and tidy.

Olympic flame was lit, and games began!

Magical moments where everyone happy and laughing!  Moments that would be retelling for years! It was fairy tale! Fairy Tale of Sarajevo 1984!

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