History will be made in 2016 when Rio de Janeiro, Brazil hosts the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, marking the first time that a South American country will welcome the world to an Olympic Games. It is also just the third time that the Games will be held in the southern hemisphere, following Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000.
On January 25, 1924 nearly 300 athletes gathered at Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc on the French slopes for what was called the International Winter Sports Week. Among the athletes in Chamonix were a dozen Canadians: one speed skater, two figure skaters and the nine men who made up the Toronto Granites hockey team.
In 1928, St. Moritz, Switzerland was the second to host the Olympic Winter Games. The popularity of the winter sport celebration was no longer in question as nearly 500 athletes from 25 countries participated.
The International Olympic Committee, by awarding the 1936 Winter Games to Germany, certified peace with this European country. Adolf Hitler opened the last Games for a 12 year period. For the first time, the Olympic flame burned at the Winter Games too.
World War II forced the cancellation of the Summer and Winter Games in 1940 and 1944. So when the flag was raised in St. Moritz in January 1948, Olympic athletes gathered for the first time in more than eleven years.