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The Nordic Games was the first international multi-sport event that focused primarily on winter sports, and was held at varying intervals between 1901 and 1926. It was organized by Sweden’s Central Association for the Promotion of Sports, and more specifically by Viktor Balck, a member of that association and one of the five original members of the International Olympic Committee. It was, in many ways, a precursor to the modern Winter Olympic Games, whose success was a contributing factor (along with the social and economic turmoil following World War I) to the Nordic Games's discontinuation in the 1920s.
Although nominally international, the Nordic Games was primarily a Swedish phenomenon, and the majority of competitors were from Sweden. Of the eight Nordic Games that were held, only one was hosted outside Sweden. The Swedish Tourist Association was significantly involved in the early games, hoping that they would draw attention and tourism to Sweden.
After Balck's death in 1928, much of the driving force behind organizing the event disappeared. The Nordic Games scheduled for 1930 was cancelled due to a lack of snow, and the Games scheduled for 1934 faltered and was never held due to the Great Depression. The event was tentatively scheduled to be restarted in 1942, but World War II intervened, and the Nordic Games never resurfaced.
Among the sports events at the Nordic Games were bandy, ski jumping, ice hockey, skeleton, and curling. Some non-winter sports were included, notably swimming and fencing, but the focus was primarily on winter sports (likely because, at their founding, the Nordic Games were the only international competition where winter sports were contested).
List of Nordic Games
- 1901: Stockholm, Sweden
- 1903: Oslo (Kristiania), Norway (Sweden-Norway)
- 1905: Stockholm, Sweden
- 1909: Stockholm, Sweden
- 1913: Stockholm, Sweden
- 1917: Stockholm, Sweden
- 1922: Stockholm, Sweden
- 1926: Stockholm, Sweden