The biggest controversy in the 48–year history of the Winter Games erupted just three days before the opening ceremonies were scheduled to get underway in northern Japan. That's when retiring IOC president Avery Brundage threatened to disqualify 40 Alpine skiers for professionalism.
At Grenoble in 1968, Brundage had demanded that all trademarks be removed from competitors' skis, but settled for having the offensive skis taken away from medal winners before they could be photographed. Now, the 84–year-old guardian of the Olympic flame wanted all the pros thrown out.
A compromise was reached when the IOC executive committee voted 28–14 to make an example of skiing's most commercialized star, 33-year-old Austrian World Cup champion Karl Schranz, who reportedly earned over $50,000 a year “testing” ski equipment.
All other offenders were allowed to participate.
Said Schranz after being banished: “This thing of amateur purity is something that dates back to the 19th century when amateur sportsmen were regarded as gentlemen and everyone else was an outcast. The Olympics should be a competition of skill and strength and speed—and no more.”
Schranz retired after the Games, having never won an Olympic gold medal.
The amateurism question caused controversy in the ice hockey event as well. Canada refused to send a team to Sapporo, having withdrawn from international amateur competition in 1969 to protest use of “professional amateurs” by Russia and other eastern bloc countries.
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