Travel Story 

Memories of the 1972 Sapporo Olympics

Page 3 of 3

And then it was over. We gathered up the empty sake bottles. The checkpoints came down. Work crews began tearing down some of the venues. The lift on the downhill was dismantled and the runs reforested. Within a week the tacky Olympic souvenirs had disappeared from the shops and were replaced by equally tacky trinkets for the usual tourist market.

Was it worth it? I put the question to my good friend Kenzo, now retired from Hokkaido University but still living in Sapporo. He was among those who opposed cutting the downhill run on Mount Eniwa and to opening that treasured wilderness area to the crowds of Olympic spectators. Twenty-six years later, in 1998, the Sapporo experience was used to discourage the cutting of a new run in Joshin National Park for the Nagano Winter Games. The race came off OK on an existing run and the park was spared any environmental damage. Now 30 years later Kenzo reports, sadly, that Mount Eniwa still bears the scars of that brief, 1972 encounter with international sport.

But we both agree: it was a hell of a party!

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