Sarajevo Olympic Hall renamed after Juan Antonio Samaranch
LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications
TAMPA/SARAJEVO, June 19: The main venue for the Sarajevo's 1984 Winter Olympic Games has been renamed in memory of Juan Antonio Samaranch to commemorate his rescuing of the venue after the civil wars of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia.
The National Olympic Committee of Bosnia-Herzegovina and ZOI’84 were behind the proposal put forward by Ahmed Karabegovic to the Sarajevo Assembly. The NOC also wants a major street named after the former IOC president who died on April 21 this year.
The arena was built for the 1984 Games which were the first under the presidency of Samaranch. The venue hosted ice hockey, speed skating and figure skating as well as the last indoor closing ceremony until the Vancouver finale.
Between 1984 and 1991 Zetra served as an ice sport venue for international speed skating events and ice hockey.
When war erupted in 1992 the building was almost destroyed by bombing and fire. The surviving areas of the facility such as the basement were used as a mortuary and to house medical supplies. Even the wooden seats were utilized for coffins.
In 1997 the NATO-led peace-keeping Stabilisation Force (SFOR) began reconstruction work and Samaranch stepped in with IOC support of US11.5m towards the work. This covered much of the estimated $20m cost zand the facility was restored in 1999 as a sports hall again.
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