The 1996 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXVI Olympiad and unofficially known as the Centennial Olympics, were an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
Atlanta was selected in September 1990 in Tokyo, Japan, above Athens, Belgrade, Manchester, Melbourne and Toronto.
The chart's information below comes from the International Olympic Committee Vote History web page, regarding the cities that bid for Atlanta for the 1996 Olympic Games. The vote occurred at the 96th IOC Session in Tokyo, Japan.
Effect on the city
The games had a profound impact on the city of Atlanta
and many in the metro area consider the Games to be instrumental in transforming Atlanta into the modernized city it has become. One instance is the mid-rise dormitories built for the Olympic Village, as one of these complexes became the first residential housing for Georgia State University
, and has recently been transferred for use by the Georgia Institute of Technology
. Another example is Centennial Olympic Stadium
, which by design was later converted in the baseball-specific Turner Field
for the Atlanta Braves
after the Games concluded, as there was no long-term need for a track and field venue in the city. Centennial Olympic Park
was also built for the events and is still in use.
The Atlanta Olympics, following the model established by the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, used no public financing. The cost of the Games was US$1.8 billion to stage. Governmental funds were used for security, but not for the actual Games themselves. To pay for the games, Atlanta relied on commercial sponsorship and ticket sales, resulting in a profit of $10 million.
However, Atlanta's heavy reliance on corporate sponsorship caused many to consider the Games to be overly-commercialized. Coca-Cola
, whose corporate headquarters is in Atlanta, received criticism for being the exclusive drink offered in Olympic venues; interestingly, President Bill Clinton
was spotted at one event drinking a Canada Dry
Ginger Ale. In addition, the city of Atlanta was found to have been competing with the IOC for advertising and sponsorship dollars. The city licensed street vendors who sold certain products over others, and therefore provided a presence for companies who were not official Olympic sponsors.
A report prepared by European Olympic officials after the Games was critical of Atlanta's performance in several key issues, including the level of crowding in the Olympic Village, the quality of available food, the accessibility and convenience of transportation, and the Games' general atmosphere of commercialism.
The Atlanta Olympics were marred by the Centennial Olympic Park bombing on July 27. This bombing killed spectator Alice Hawthorne and wounded 111 others, and caused the death of Melih Uzunyol by heart attack. Eric Robert Rudolph was charged with and confessed to this bombing and several others. He is now in a US Federal prison.
At the closing ceremony, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch said in his closing speech, "Well done, Atlanta" and called the Games "most exceptional". This broke precedent for Samaranch, who had traditionally labeled each Games "the best Olympics ever" at each closing ceremony, a practice he resumed at the subsequent Games in Sydney in 2000.
Songs and themes
The Olympiad's official theme, Summon the Heroes
, was written by John Williams
, making it the third Olympiad for which he has composed. The song "The Power of the Dream
", composed by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds
and David Foster
, with words by Linda Thompson
was performed in the opening ceremony by Céline Dion
accompanied by Foster and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Centennial Choir
. Gladys Knight
sang "Georgia on My Mind
", Georgia's official state song
, at the opening ceremony. The closing ceremony featured Gloria Estefan
singing "Reach", the official theme song of the 1996 Olympics. At the closing of the ceremony Trisha Yearwood
performed the Olympics song ["The Flame"].
for the Olympiad was an abstract, animated character named Izzy
. In contrast to the standing tradition of mascots of national or regional significance in the city hosting the Olympiad, Izzy was an amorphous, computer-designed fantasy figure.
A record 197 nations, all current IOC member nations, took part, with a record 79 of them winning at least one medal. Palestine was allowed to compete in the Olympics for the first time. Also for the first time, Olympic medals were won by the athletes from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burundi, Ecuador, Georgia, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mozambique, Slovakia, Tonga, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Lee Lai Shan won a gold medal in sailing, the only Olympic medal that Hong Kong has ever won as a British colony (1952-1997). This meant that for the only time, the colonial flag of Hong Kong was raised to the accompaniment of the British national anthem God Save the Queen, as Hong Kong's sovereignty was later transferred to China in 1997.
Softball, beach volleyball and mountain biking debuted on the Olympic program, together with women's soccer/football and lightweight rowing.
- Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic torch during the opening ceremonies of the games and received a replacement gold medal for his boxing victory in the 1960 Summer Olympics.
- Slovene gymnast Leon Štukelj arose at the opening ceremony as one of the oldest living sportsmen in the world (age 97)
- Naim Süleymanoğlu became the first weightlifter to win three gold medals.
- Donovan Bailey of Canada won the men's 100 m, setting a new world record of 9.84 seconds at that time. He also anchored his team's gold in the 4x100 m relay.
- Michael Johnson won gold in both the 200 m and 400 m, setting a new world record of 19.32 seconds in the 200 m. Johnson afterward began disputing Bailey's unofficial title as the "world's fastest man", which later culminated in a 150-metre race between the two to settle the issue.
- Marie-José Perec equaled Johnson's performance, although without a world record, by winning the rare 200 m/400 m double.
- Carl Lewis won his 4th long jump gold medal at the age of 35. Lewis, Paavo Nurmi and Mark Spitz shared the record for most Olympic gold medals (9) until Michael Phelps reached 14 with his eight gold medals won in Beijing.
- Cycling professionals were admitted to the Olympics, with five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain winning the inaugural individual time trial event.
- Michelle Smith of Ireland won three gold medals and a bronze in swimming. She remains her nation's most decorated Olympian. However, her victories were overshadowed by doping allegations even though she did not test positive in 1996. She received a four-year suspension in 1998 for tampering with a urine sample, though her medals and records were allowed to stand.
- Kerri Strug of the United States women's gymnastics team vaulted with an injured ankle and landed on one foot.
- Amy Van Dyken won four gold medals in the Olympic swimming pool, the first American woman to win four titles in a single Olympiad.
- Deon Hemmings became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal for Jamaica and the English-speaking West Indies.
- Five athletes were disqualified for using banned drugs. A few of these athletes were reinstated since the drug they took had been declared illegal only a week before the Olympics.
- Andre Agassi won the gold medal in tennis. This helped him become the first male player to ever win the career Golden Slam.
- Kurt Angle of the United States won the gold medal in 100 kg (220 lb) freestyle wrestling while suffering from a fractured neck.
- Deng Yaping of China won two gold medals in Women singles and doubles of table tennis. She also won these two titles in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
- The US women's soccer team won the gold medal in the first ever women's soccer event.
- Xeno Müller won gold for the Men's single scull event (rowing) in his first Olympic appearance. His time of 6:44.85 is still the current Olympic record.
Events of the Atlanta Games were held in a variety of areas. A number were held within the Olympic Ring, a three-mile circle from the center of Atlanta. Others were held at Stone Mountain
, about 20 miles outside of the city. To broaden ticket sales, other events, such as football, occurred in Southeastern cities.
Inside the Olympic Ring
- Centennial Olympic Stadium (Now known as Turner Field) - Opening/Closing Ceremonies, Athletics
- Georgia Dome - Basketball, Artistic Gymnastics, Handball
- Georgia Tech Aquatic Center - Swimming, Diving, Synchronized Swimming, Water Polo
- Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium - Baseball
- Georgia World Congress Center - Fencing, Handball, Judo, Table Tennis, Weightlifting, Wrestling
- Omni Coliseum - Volleyball
- Clark Atlanta University Stadium - Hockey
- Morris Brown College Stadium - Hockey
- Georgia State University Sports Arena - Badminton
- Forbes Arena (Morehouse College) - Basketball
- Alexander Memorial Coliseum – Boxing
Elsewhere in metropolitan Atlanta
- Sanford Stadium (Athens, Georgia) - Football
- Stegeman Coliseum (Athens, Georgia) - Volleyball, Rhythmic Gymnastics
- Savannah River (at Savannah, Georgia) - Yachting
- Ocoee River (Polk County, Tennessee) - Canoeing/kayak (slalom)
- Golden Park (Columbus, Georgia) – Softball
- Legion Field (Birmingham, Alabama) – Football
- RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.) - Football
- Citrus Bowl (Orlando, Florida) - Football
- Miami Orange Bowl (Miami, Florida) - Football
Immediately after the Olympics, Centennial Olympic Stadium was converted into Turner Field, which became home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team for the 1997 season. Once the Braves moved, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was demolished, and the site became a parking lot for Turner Field; the Omni was demolished that same year to make way for Philips Arena on its site. The only other Olympic venue to be closed since has been the Miami Orange Bowl, demolished in 2008 for the Florida Marlins' new baseball stadium to be built on its site.
See the medal winners, ordered by sport:
A total of 197 nations were represented at the 1996 Games, and the combined total of athletes was about 10,318. Twenty-four countries made their Olympic debut this year, including eleven of the ex-Soviet countries that competed as part of the Unified Team in 1992. Russia competed independently for the first time since 1912, when it was the Russian Empire. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia competed as Yugoslavia.
The 14 countries making their Olympic debut were: Azerbaijan, Burundi, Cape Verde, Comoros, Dominica, Guinea-Bissau, FYR Macedonia, Nauru, Palestine, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
The 10 countries making their Summer Olympic debut (after competing at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer) were: Armenia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Slovakia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
These are the top ten nations that won medals at these Games. (Host country is highlighted)
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Olympics with significant criminal incidents