Difference between Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics

Key difference: Both Winter and Summer Olympic games are organized by the IOC (International Olympic committee) at an interval of every two years. The difference between them lies in the venues at which they’re held and the games that they showcase.

The Olympic Games first began in the city of Olympia, in ancient Greece. Since then, the competition has emerged to become the foremost sporting event of the world. The Olympics is a hugely popular multi-sporting event, where more than two hundred nations are represented by a contingent of approximately ten thousand athletes. Given that the Olympics covers almost all the prominent sports of the world, two editions of the same are held alternatively, at an interval of every two years. These editions are the summer Olympics and the winter Olympics. Interestingly, both these editions were held in the same years, until the year 1992, before the IOC (International Olympic committee) decided to organize the two events at a gap of every two years. As a consequence, the next Winter Olympics was held in the year 1994, instead of being held in the year 1996.

The Winter Olympics, as the name suggests, are held particularly in the winter season. The games played are specific to this kind of season, and are also called as winter sports. Some of the most popular winter sports such as ice-skating, figure skating, ice hockey, snowboarding, skiing, etc. gather a world audience through the Winter Olympics. The games are held over a period of two to three weeks at a host city, for which a formal bidding process is observed by the IOC. The host city gets to display its fabric of culture and hospitality by staging an event of this magnitude. Like it happens in the Summer Olympics, the winners and runner-ups of team and individual events in the Winter Olympics are awarded medals, in accordance with their performances. The winner receives the gold medal, while the first runner up bags the silver, and the bronze goes to the second runner up. The next Winter Olympics would be held in the city of Sochi, in Russia, in the year 2014.

Summer Olympics are the Olympic Games which are principally held in the summer season. The games and sporting events organized at the Summer Olympics are totally in contrast to the ones held at Winter Olympics. It is also fair to say that this is the competition which stages the most competitive and the most widely followed sporting events of the world. These events include the likes of athletics, football, basketball, swimming, weightlifting, hockey, volleyball, badminton, gymnastics, etc. The Summer Olympic Games also enjoy a wider fan base and a humungous television audience than its winter counterpart. Like Winter Olympics, the Summer Olympics too are held over a time frame of two to three weeks. The process of awarding the medals also remains the same. Moreover, the country that has dominated both these editions is also the same, which is United States. The US has earned gold at each and every Winter Olympic Games ever held, and holds an impressive record tally of 2399 medals from 26 Summer Olympic Games till date. The upcoming Summer Olympics are going to be held in the year 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Comparison between Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics:


Winter Olympics

Summer Olympics

Season of holding

They are the Olympic games that are held in Winter season.

These gamers are held in the summer season.

Type of sporting events held

Winter sports

Summer sports

Fan base

Comparatively less than the Summer edition 

Hugely popular all over the world

Television audience

Relatively less than the Summer games

This event is watched by scores of people all around the globe

Number of sporting events

Less than Summer Olympics

More than any other sporting event in the world

Examples of sporting events held

Ice skating, Ice hockey, Figure skating, Skiing, etc.

Swimming, athletics, Badminton, Volleyball, Football, etc.

Image Courtesy: zimbio.com, valandre.com

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