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1948 Games: #swisshistorypics Post-war Olympic camaraderie in St Moritz

Seventy years ago, Switzerland hosted the first Olympics since World War II in the alpine village of St Moritz. Japan and Germany were excluded due to their role in the conflict and the Soviet Union did not send any athletes to compete. But almost 700 athletes from 28 nations did take part in 22 events and in four different sports.

The impact of the war was still felt throughout Europe. Athletes had been prevented from leaving their home countries or taking part in any competition for some time, and there had been no investment in sport. In order to boost morale, the post-war winter event, which took place at the end of January 1948, was named "The Games of Renewal".

The International Olympic Committee chose St. Moritz as the venue for the 1948 Winter Games because of its well-maintained infrastructure, which had been built for the previous Winter Olympics in 1928. The problem of limited supplies of sports equipment was met with a sense of camaraderie, notably towards the Norwegian skiers. They had to borrow skis from the American team in order to compete.

All of this, and the fact that Switzerland had remained neutral throughout the war, provided a positive boost for the organisers and competitors.

Foul play?

Bobsleigh events were a major highlight, partly due to allegations of sabotage: the steering on the sleds of the US team was reportedly tampered with. Later, a truck driver admitted to having caused the damage by accidentally backing into the shed where the bobsleighs were kept. The Swiss team came up trumps with gold and silver for that particular event, leaving the bronze to the US.

In the series #swisshistorypicsexternal link we look back to the past and show pictures from the first winter Olympics after the Second World War.