Down memory lane: 1998 - The first Winter Games outside Europe
The 7th edition of the Paralympic Winter Games received great coverage through print and electronic media26 Feb 2022
A file image of the Nagano 1998 Paralympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony.
The Paralympic Winter Games in Nagano, the first to be held outside Europe, was another important step in the journey as the Games attracted a lot of attention from the sports-loving Japanese and Asian public and also got good coverage across print and broadcast platforms.
The decision to move the Games to the even year between two Summer Games means the two Paralympic events (Summer and Winter Games) had a gap between them which gave the fans and media a chance to give the Paralympic Winter Games the attention it deserved.
The 7th edition of the Paralympic Winter Games were held from 5-14 March 1998, and a total of 151,376 spectator visits was recorded during the Games, while 1,468 media representatives covered the event. The official Games website recorded a total of 7.7 million hits during that span, with 1 million hits rolling in on the first and second day of the competition.
The participants' number too had swelled with a total of 1,146 participants from 31 countries including 562 Para athletes - 440 male and 122 female - from 31 countries and 584 officials competing in 122 medal events in five sports. Competitions were held in Alpine Skiing, Sledge Hockey, Biathlon, Cross-Country Skiing with Ice Sledge Racing being held for the first time in Paralympics.
A total of seven venues spread over four cities - Nagano, Hakuba, Nozawaonsen and Yamanouchi - were used, opening up a lot of opportunities for spectators to enjoy the Games.
Norway topped the medal table with 40 medals in all - 18 gold, 9 silver and 13 bronze. Germany were second with 44 medals (14 gold, 17 silver and 13 bronze) with the United States following at third with 34 medals (13-8-13).
On the field, there were some outstanding performances. Ragnhild Myklebust of Norway, who had bagged five gold medals in the previous edition of the Winter Paralympics in 1994, repeated the act by bagging five more medals in 1998. She won gold medals in 2.5 km Cross Country Sitting Skiing, 5kg Cross-Country Sitting Skiing, 10km Cross-Country Sitting Skiing and also led their relay team to gold in 3x2.5km Skiing.
Among male participants, Pedro Kardash of Ukraine and Andre Favre of France bagged three gold medals each.
Norway caused an upset by beating Canada (2-0) in the Ice Hockey (Sledge Hockey) final, after dominating their group winning all three matches.
Hosts Japan made a big splash by finishing fourth in the medals table with 41 medals - 12 gold, 16 silver and 13 bronze - capitalising on home conditions to win nine medals in Ice Sledge Speed Racing - thus making for a Games worth remembering for the Japanese people. This was the best performance by an Asian country in the Paralympic Winter Games.