Why don't they ever have the Winter Olympics in the southern hemisphere?

Why don’t they ever have the winter games in the Southern Hemisphere? I know Australia doesn’t get enough snow anywhere to host a Winter Olympics (although they do have machines for that), but I know the southernmost tip of Chile and Argentina have snow, and doesn’t South Africa get some snow? Is it just weather that confines all Winter Olympic games to the Northern Hemisphere, or is it due to the cognitive dissonance northerners (who comprise most of the television-owning population) would experience from having to watch winter games in our summer? If this did happen, would we have to have two winter games in a row to get back on track, and is that a reason they don’t do it?

Actually, looking at the list of cities that have had Olympics, Sydney is the only city south of the equator to have had one. Seems southerners are getting the shaft.

Well, there is the small problem of finding a Southern Hemisphere city that: can support the thousands of people that will arrive for the Games, has the facilities to stage the Games, has the desire to host the Games, and has snow and mountains and stuff like that. Kinda limits the choices.

Until recently, the Summer and Winter Olympics were held in the same year. Holding both sets of games at the same time (during the northern Summer) would have caused problems.

The only Southern Hemisphere countries that could feasibly hold a Winter Olympics are Argentina, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand. Holding an Olympics requires a very substantial investment in infrastructure and organization, however. With the exception of Australia, these countries don’t really have the economic resources to host an Olympics; and Australia hasn’t been very interested in the winter games.

Similarly for the Summer games, economics has meant that not many countries in the south have had the resources to consider bidding on them.

No Olympics have ever been held in the tropics, either. (And it’s not because of the heat - temperate-zone summers are usually hotter than the tropics.) Olympics have almost invariably been held in relatively wealthy, developed countries. The only exception has been Mexico City in 1968, and Mexico is one of the most populous and wealthy countries in Latin America.

Snow coverage can be very patchy in the Australian ski fields from one winter to the next. There have probably been only about three really good (ie comparable to northern hemisphere conditions) seasons in the last thirty years. It would be a huge gamble to stage the Winter Olympics. I don’t think you could manufacture sufficient snow if the weather refused to co-operate.

There’s probably also the factor of the “reverse seasons”. Northerners always seem to freak out at the idea of having to adapt to southern seasons. The Sydney Summer Olympics in 2000 were not held in summer, but in spring, partly I understand to minimise this effect.

Finally I doubt there’d be much popular support for staging the Winter Olympics here. They’d be hugely costly and would involve a whole lot of sports that are alien to the local population (and in which there’d be little chance of Australian medals).

Nitpick: Australia is the only nation in the Southern hemisphere to host the Olympics, but Sydney isn’t the only city. Melbourne hosted the Olympics in 1956.

I think NZ could host it. But I don’t think their government would be foolish enough to bid for it.

Australia’s cities are too far from the snow, there’s probably not enough reliable coverage, the runs are not challenging enough and, up until now, Australia’s greatest success in the Winter Games was when a guy won a race because every single other competitor fell over, vindicating his race plan.

I would suspect that competitors in the outdoor events such as ski events, bobsleigh etc might have problems getting in condition for a ‘summer’ winter Olympics. It is a fact that the competitive seasons for these sports are based on the Northern hemisphere winter. The summer games were not such a problem as the early season in Australia overlaps the late season in the North.

I think you’ve hit close to the mark here. Even the skate events, which are now usually held indoors, have established competitive seasons based on when it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Athletes might find it difficult to stay in top form when there are no competitions from (say) March until the Olympics in June or whatever.

The lack of cities near the snow doesn’t look like it should be a problem. The Summer Games are always hosted by large cities, but the Winter Olympics have been held in small places, fairly recently. Albertville and Lillehammer are both towns, not cities. Nagano and Salt Lake City are larger but both well under half a million people. However, they were all established winter sports resorts before they bid to be Olympic hosts.