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1996 Summer Olympics

Games of the XXVI Olympiad, held in Atlanta in 1996

Top 10 1996 Summer Olympics related articles

Games of the XXVI Olympiad
Host cityAtlanta, Georgia, United States
MottoThe Celebration of the Century
Nations197
Athletes10,320 (6,797 men, 3,523 women)
Events271 in 26 sports (37 disciplines)
OpeningJuly 19
ClosingAugust 4
Opened by
Cauldron
StadiumCentennial Olympic Stadium
Summer
Barcelona 1992 Sydney 2000
Winter
Lillehammer 1994 Nagano 1998

The 1996 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXVI Olympiad, commonly known as Atlanta 1996, and also referred to as the Centennial Olympic Games,[2][3][4] were an international multi-sport event that was held from July 19 to August 4, 1996, in Atlanta, Georgia. These Games, which were the fourth Summer Olympics to be hosted by the United States, marked the centennial of the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens—the inaugural edition of the modern Olympic Games. They were also the first since 1924 to be held in a different year from a Winter Olympics, under a new IOC practice implemented in 1994 to hold the Summer and Winter Games in alternating, even-numbered years.

More than 10,000 athletes from 197 National Olympic Committees competed in 26 sports, including the Olympic debuts of beach volleyball, mountain biking, and softball, as well as the new disciplines of lightweight rowing and women's football (soccer). 24 countries made their Summer Olympic debut in Atlanta, including eleven former Soviet republics participating for the first time as independent nations. The hosting United States led the medal count with a total of 101 medals, and the most gold (44) and silver (32) medals out of all countries. The U.S. topped the medal count for the first time since 1984, and for the first time since 1968 in a non-boycotted Summer Olympics. Notable performances during competition included those of Andre Agassi—who became the first men's singles tennis player to combine a career Grand Slam with an Olympic gold medal, Donovan Bailey—who set a new world record of 9.84 for the men's 100 meters, and Lilia Podkopayeva—who became the second gymnast to win an individual event gold after winning the all-round title in the same Olympics.

The festivities were marred by violence on July 27, when Eric Rudolph detonated pipe bombs at Centennial Olympic Park—a downtown park that was built to serve as a public focal point for the Games' festivities, killing 1 and injuring 111. In 2003, Rudolph confessed to the bombing and a series of related attacks on abortion centers and a gay bar, and was sentenced to life in prison. He claimed that the bombing was meant to protest the U.S. government's sanctioning of "abortion on demand".

The Games turned a profit, helped by record revenue from sponsorship deals and broadcast rights, and reliance on private funding (as opposed to the extensive public funding used on later Olympics), among other factors. The Games faced criticism for being overly commercialized, as well as other issues noted by European officials, such as the availability of food and transport. The event had a lasting impact on the city; Centennial Olympic Park led a revitalization of Atlanta's downtown area and has served as a symbol of the Games' legacy, the Olympic Village buildings have since been used as residence housing for area universities, and the Centennial Olympic Stadium has been re-developed twice since the Games—first as the baseball park Turner Field, and then as the college football venue Georgia State Stadium.

1996 Summer Olympics Intro articles: 26

1996 Summer Olympics YouTube videos

Bidding process

Atlanta was selected on September 18, 1990, in Tokyo, Japan, over Athens, Belgrade, Manchester, Melbourne, and Toronto at the 96th IOC Session. The city entered the competition as a dark horse, being up against stiff competition.[5] The US media also criticized it as a second-tier city and complained of Georgia's Confederate history. However, the IOC Evaluation Commission ranked Atlanta's infrastructure and facilities the highest, while IOC members said that it could guarantee large television revenues similar to the success of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.[6] Additionally, former US ambassador to the UN and Atlanta mayor Andrew Jackson Young touted Atlanta's civil rights history and reputation for racial harmony. Young also wanted to showcase a reformed American South. The strong economy of Atlanta and improved race relations in the South helped to impress the IOC officials.[7] The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) also proposed a substantial revenue-sharing with the IOC, USOC, and other NOCs.[7] Atlanta's main rivals were Toronto, whose front-running bid that began in 1986 had chances to succeed after Canada had held a successful 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, and Melbourne, Australia, who hosted the 1956 Summer Olympics and after Brisbane, Australia's failed bid for the 1992 games (which were awarded to Barcelona) and prior to Sydney, Australia's successful 2000 Summer Olympics bid. This would be Toronto's fourth failed attempt since 1960 (tried in 1960, 1964, and 1976, but defeated by Rome, Tokyo and Montreal).[8]

Greece, the home of the ancient and first modern Olympics, was considered by many observers the "natural choice" for the Centennial Games.[6][7] However, Athens bid chairman Spyros Metaxa demanded that it be named as the site of the Olympics because of its "historical right due to its history", which may have caused resentment among delegates. Furthermore, the Athens bid was described as "arrogant and poorly prepared", being regarded as "not being up to the task of coping with the modern and risk-prone extravaganza" of the current Games. Athens faced numerous obstacles, including "political instability, potential security problems, air pollution, traffic congestion and the fact that it would have to spend about $3 billion to improve its infrastructure of airports, roads, rail lines and other amenities".[6][9][10] Athens lost its bid to host the games to Atlanta in 1990, but was later chosen to host the 2004 Summer Olympics in September 1997 after Atlanta hosted the previous year.

1996 Summer Olympics bidding results[11]
City NOC Name Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5
Atlanta  United States 19 20 26 34 51
Athens  Greece 23 23 26 30 35
Toronto  Canada 14 17 18 22
Melbourne  Australia 12 21 16
Manchester  Great Britain 11 5
Belgrade  SFR Yugoslavia[12] 7

1996 Summer Olympics Bidding process articles: 27

Development and preparation

Budget

The total cost of the 1996 Summer Olympics was estimated to be around $1.7 billion.[13] The venues and the Games themselves were funded entirely via private investment,[14] and the only public funding came from the U.S. government for security, and around $500 million of public money used on physical public infrastructure including streetscaping, road improvements, Centennial Olympic Park (alongside $75 million in private funding), expansion of the airport, improvements in public transportation, and redevelopment of public housing projects.[15] $420 million worth of tickets were sold, sale of sponsorship rights accounted for $540 million, and sale of the domestic broadcast rights to NBC accounted for $456 million. In total, the Games turned a profit of $10 million.[16][13]

Venues and infrastructure

The Centennial Olympic Stadium
The Georgia Dome
The Alexander Memorial Coliseum

Events of the 1996 Games were held in a variety of areas. A number were held within the Olympic Ring, a 3 mi (4.8 km) circle from the center of Atlanta. Others were held at Stone Mountain, about 20 miles (32 km) outside of the city. To broaden ticket sales, other events, such as Association football (soccer), were staged in various cities in the Southeast.[17][18]

Marketing

The Olympiad's official theme, "Summon the Heroes", was written by John Williams, making it the third Olympiad at that point for which he had composed (official composer 1984; NBC's coverage composer 1988). The opening ceremony featured Céline Dion singing "The Power of the Dream", the official theme song of the 1996 Olympics. The mascot 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, fantasy figure. Atlanta's Olympic slogan "Come Celebrate Our Dream" was written by Jack Arogeti, a Managing Director at McCann-Erickson in Atlanta at the time. The slogan was selected from more than 5,000[19] submitted by the public to the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. Billy Payne noted that Jack "captured the spirit and our true motivation for the Olympic games."[20]

The city of Savannah, Georgia (host of the yachting events) held its own local festivities, including a local cauldron lighting event on the first day of the Games (headlined by a performance by country musician Trisha Yearwood).[21]

The syndicated game show Wheel of Fortune taped three weeks of Olympics-themed episodes from the Fox Theater in Atlanta for broadcast in April and July 1996, which included prizes from the Games' official sponsors.[22][23] A video game featuring the Games' mascot, Izzy's Quest for the Olympic Rings, was also released.[24]

1996 Summer Olympics Development and preparation articles: 54

Calendar

All times are in Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4); the other, Birmingham, Alabama uses Central Daylight Time (UTC-5)
 ●  Opening ceremony     Event competitions  ●  Event finals  ●  Closing ceremony
1996 Summer Olympics Calendar of Events
Date July August
19th
Fri
20th
Sat
21st
Sun
22nd
Mon
23rd
Tue
24th
Wed
25th
Thu
26th
Fri
27th
Sat
28th
Sun
29th
Mon
30th
Tue
31st
Wed
1st
Thu
2nd
Fri
3rd
Sat
4th
Sun
Archery
Athletics








Badminton
Baseball
Basketball
Boxing

Canoeing

Cycling
Diving
Equestrian
Fencing
Field hockey
Football
Gymnastics

Handball
Judo
Modern pentathlon
Rowing

Sailing
Shooting
Softball
Swimming






Synchronized swimming
Table tennis
Tennis
Volleyball
Water polo
Weightlifting
Wrestling



Total gold medals 10 17 12 17 14 13 13 20 28 19 7 18 14 21 30 18
Ceremonies
Date 19th
Fri
20th
Sat
21st
Sun
22nd
Mon
23rd
Tue
24th
Wed
25th
Thu
26th
Fri
27th
Sat
28th
Sun
29th
Mon
30th
Tue
31st
Wed
1st
Thu
2nd
Fri
3rd
Sat
4th
Sun
July August

Games

Opening ceremony

The ceremony began with a 60-second countdown, which included footage from all of the previous Olympic Games at twenty-two seconds. There was then a flashback to the closing ceremony of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, showing the then president of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, inviting the athletes to compete in Atlanta in 1996. Then, spirits ascended in the northwest corner of the stadium, each representing one of the colors in the Olympic rings. The spirits called the tribes of the world which, after mixed percussion, formed the Olympic rings while the youth of Atlanta formed the number 100. Famed film score composer John Williams wrote the official overture for the 1996 Olympics, called "Summon the Heroes"; this was his second overture for an Olympic games, the first being "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" written for the 1984 Summer Olympics. Céline Dion performed David Foster's official 1996 Olympics song "The Power of the Dream", accompanied by Foster on the piano, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Centennial Choir (comprising Morehouse College Glee Club, Spelman College Glee Club and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus). Gladys Knight sang Georgia's official state song "Georgia on My Mind".

There was a showcase entitled "Welcome To The World", featuring cheerleaders, Chevrolet pick-up trucks, marching bands, and steppers, which highlighted the American youth and a typical Saturday college football game in the South, including the wave commonly produced by spectators in sporting events around the world. There was another showcase entitled "Summertime" which focused on Atlanta and the Old South, emphasizing its beauty, spirit, music, history, culture, and rebirth after the American Civil War. The ceremony also featured a memorable dance tribute to the athletes and to the goddesses of victory of the ancient Greek Olympics, using silhouette imagery. The accompanying music, "The Tradition of the Games", was composed by Basil Poledouris.[25]

Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic cauldron and later received a replacement gold medal for his boxing victory in the 1960 Summer Olympics. For the torch ceremony, more than 10,000 Olympic torches were manufactured by the American Meter Company and electroplated by Erie Plating Company. Each torch weighed about 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) and was made primarily of aluminum, with a Georgia pecan wood handle and gold ornamentation.[26][27]

Closing ceremony

Sports

The 1996 Summer Olympic programme featured 271 events in 26 sports. Softball, beach volleyball and mountain biking debuted on the Olympic program, together with women's football and lightweight rowing.

Gold medal from the 1996 Summer Games

In women's gymnastics, Ukrainian Lilia Podkopayeva became the all-around Olympic champion. Podkopayeva also won a second gold medal in the floor exercise final and a silver on the beam – becoming the only female gymnast since Nadia Comăneci to win an individual event gold after winning the all-round title in the same Olympics. Kerri Strug of the United States women's gymnastics team vaulted with an injured ankle and landed on one foot, winning the first women's team gold medal for the US. Shannon Miller won the gold medal on the balance beam event, the first time an American gymnast had won an individual gold medal in a non-boycotted Olympic games. The Spanish team won the first gold medal in the new competition of women's rhythmic group all-around. The team was formed by Estela Giménez, Marta Baldó, Nuria Cabanillas, Lorena Guréndez, Estíbaliz Martínez and Tania Lamarca.

Amy Van Dyken won four gold medals in the Olympic swimming pool, the first American woman to win four titles in a single Olympiad. Penny Heyns, swimmer of South Africa, won the gold medals in both the 100 metres and 200 metres breaststroke events. 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.

Women's 100 m hurdles at the Olympic stadium

In track and field, 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 4 × 100 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. Marie-José Pérec 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.

In tennis, Andre Agassi won the gold medal, which would eventually make him the first man and second singles player overall (after his eventual wife, Steffi Graf) to win the career Golden Slam, which consists of an Olympic gold medal and victories in the singles tournaments held at professional tennis' four major events (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open).

The Olympic flag waves at the 1996 games

There were a series of national firsts realized during the Games. Deon Hemmings became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal for Jamaica and the English-speaking West Indies. Lee Lai Shan won a gold medal in sailing, the only Olympic medal that Hong Kong ever won as a British colony (1842–1997). 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. The US women's football team won the gold medal in the first ever women's football event. For the first time, Olympic medals were won by athletes from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burundi, Ecuador, Georgia, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mozambique, Slovakia, Tonga, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Another first in Atlanta was that this was the first Summer Olympics ever that not a single nation swept all three medals in a single event.

1996 Summer Olympics Calendar articles: 101