1996 Summer Olympics

Facts

Competition type Olympic Games
Host city (Venues)
Opening ceremony 19 July
Closing ceremony 4 August
Competition dates 20 July – 4 August
OCOG Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games
Participants 10339 from 197 countries
Medal events 271 in 36 disciplines
Other events 2 in 1 disciplines

Overview

In September 1994, the IOC celebrated the 100th anniversary of the reestablishment of the Olympic Games at the Centennial Olympic Congress in Paris. It was but a prelude to the 1996 Olympic Games, which were called the Centennial Olympic Games, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Ist Games of the Modern Olympiad.

The Games were held in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States, and that decision had been made in September 1990. It was a highly controversial decision, as the favorite seemed to be Athens, which had hosted the 1896 Olympics. Athens had not been an Olympic host since 1896, or unofficially 1906, and the Greeks seemed to feel that the 1996 Olympics belonged to them as a birthright. When they lost the bid, the Greeks were irate, feeling that the Games had been stolen from them. They accused Atlanta and The Coca-Cola Company, a major international corporation based in Atlanta that has been a significant commercial sponsor of the Olympic Games, of buying the Olympics. The Greeks actually briefly considered boycotting the Centennial Olympic Games, and initially even refused to allow Atlanta to use the Olympic Flame, which is always lit at Olympia, Greece, for the torch relay. IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch and the IOC were able to assuage the Greeks and eventually neither of these events came to pass.

The Games were returning to the United States after only 12 years, with the 1984 Olympic Games having been held in Los Angeles, and the 1996 Olympics were a chance for Atlanta to demonstrate itself as a major international city. Atlanta had problems however. The city became inundated with vendors and salespeople selling Olympic-related merchandise and attempting to make a fast buck off the Olympics. The atmosphere was somewhat unsavory and definitely commercialized and the Olympic Movement did not appreciate it, feeling that Atlanta had gone overboard in this regard.

The major problem that occurred at the 1996 Olympics came on Saturday, 27 July, shortly after midnight, when a bomb exploded in the Centennial Olympic Park, where many spectators and fans congregated and partied through the night. The bomb killed two people and injured several more. Only in 2003 was the perpetrator of the blast arrested, anti-gay and anti-abortion motivated serial bomber Eric Rudolph.

By now, the new world order was fully established with many of the former Soviet Republics competing independently for the first time. Germany again competed as a single nation, having absorbed the great German Democratic Republic athletic programs under the flag of the combined state. For the first time ever, all IOC member nations competed at the Olympics, with 197 nations competing.

The biggest medal winner at Atlanta was American swimmer Amy Van Dyken, who won four gold medals. She was challenged in the pool by the Irish swimmer Michelle Smith, who won three gold medals, but was dogged by rumors of drug use because her times in 1996 had improved dramatically, and also because her husband, former Dutch discus thrower, Erik de Bruin, had once been suspended for drug use.

There were several apparent drug disqualifications in Atlanta, but most of them were for the controversial drug, bromantan. The drug was a combined amphetamine/anabolic steroid but it had only recently been placed on the banned list. Because of this, the Court of Arbitration for Sport lifted the disqualifications for bromantan.

In track & field athletics, Michael Johnson was expected to be the most publicized athlete, and he won the 200 metres in world record time, and added a second gold medal in the 400 metres. But he was overshadowed by Carl Lewis, competing in his fourth Olympics. Past his prime, Lewis was trying to win a fourth consecutive gold medal in the long jump, to match the discus record set by Al Oerter. Lewis barely qualified for the finals, but in the finals, he came through as had done so often, and a fourth long jump gold medal was his.

Within a year after the Olympics, the track was removed to make way for a new baseball stadium for the Atlanta Braves, and the former Olympic Stadium was renamed Turner Field, in honor of Braves owner, Ted Turner. Visitors to Atlanta could still stroll through the Centennial Olympic Park, but there were few other visible signs that an Olympic Games had been held in the city.

Bid process

Bid voting at the 96th IOC Session in Tokyo on 18 September 1990.

Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5
Atlanta, Georgia 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 Yugoslavia 7

Ceremonies

Officially opened by Bill Clinton (President)
Torchbearer(s) Cassius Clay (Lit flame), Voula Patoulidou, Janet Evans, Al Oerter, Evander Holyfield
Taker of the Athlete's Oath Teresa Edwards
Taker of the Official's Oath Hobie Billingsley (Diving)
Flagbearers Full list
Olympic Flag Bearers Edwin Moses, Steve Lundquist, Katrina McClain, Geoff Gaberino, Mary T. Meagher, Ralph Boston, Dave Maggard, Benita Fitzgerald-Brown

Medal Disciplines

Archery Cycling Road Rhythmic Gymnastics
Artistic Gymnastics Cycling Track Rowing
Artistic Swimming Diving Sailing
Athletics Equestrian Dressage Shooting
Badminton Equestrian Eventing Softball
Baseball Equestrian Jumping Swimming
Basketball Fencing Table Tennis
Beach Volleyball Football Tennis
Boxing Handball Volleyball
Canoe Slalom Hockey Water Polo
Canoe Sprint Judo Weightlifting
Cycling Mountain Bike Modern Pentathlon Wrestling

Other Disciplines

Athletics

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States USA 44 32 25 101
Russian Federation RUS 26 21 16 63
Germany GER 20 18 27 65
People's Republic of China CHN 16 22 12 50
France FRA 15 7 15 37
Italy ITA 13 10 12 35
Australia AUS 9 9 23 41
Cuba CUB 9 8 8 25
Ukraine UKR 9 2 12 23
Republic of Korea KOR 7 15 5 27
Poland POL 7 5 5 17
Hungary HUN 7 4 10 21
Spain ESP 5 6 6 17
Romania ROU 4 7 9 20
Netherlands NED 4 5 10 19
Greece GRE 4 4 0 8
Czech Republic CZE 4 3 4 11
Switzerland SUI 4 3 0 7
Denmark DEN 4 1 1 6
Turkey TUR 4 1 1 6
Canada CAN 3 11 8 22
Bulgaria BUL 3 7 5 15
Japan JPN 3 6 5 14
Kazakhstan KAZ 3 4 4 11
Brazil BRA 3 3 9 15
New Zealand NZL 3 2 1 6
South Africa RSA 3 1 1 5
Ireland IRL 3 0 1 4
Sweden SWE 2 4 2 8
Norway NOR 2 2 3 7
Belgium BEL 2 2 2 6
Nigeria NGR 2 1 3 6
Democratic People's Republic of Korea PRK 2 1 2 5
Algeria ALG 2 0 1 3
Ethiopia ETH 2 0 1 3
Great Britain GBR 1 8 6 15
Belarus BLR 1 6 8 15
Kenya KEN 1 4 3 8
Jamaica JAM 1 3 2 6
Finland FIN 1 2 1 4
Indonesia INA 1 1 2 4
Serbia and Montenegro SCG 1 1 2 4
Islamic Republic of Iran IRI 1 1 1 3
Slovakia SVK 1 1 1 3
Armenia ARM 1 1 0 2
Croatia CRO 1 1 0 2
Portugal POR 1 0 1 2
Thailand THA 1 0 1 2
Burundi BDI 1 0 0 1
Costa Rica CRC 1 0 0 1
Ecuador ECU 1 0 0 1
Hong Kong, China HKG 1 0 0 1
Syrian Arab Republic SYR 1 0 0 1
Argentina ARG 0 2 1 3
Namibia NAM 0 2 0 2
Slovenia SLO 0 2 0 2
Austria AUT 0 1 2 3
Malaysia MAS 0 1 1 2
Republic of Moldova MDA 0 1 1 2
Uzbekistan UZB 0 1 1 2
Azerbaijan AZE 0 1 0 1
Chinese Taipei TPE 0 1 0 1
Latvia LAT 0 1 0 1
Philippines PHI 0 1 0 1
The Bahamas BAH 0 1 0 1
Tonga TGA 0 1 0 1
Zambia ZAM 0 1 0 1
Georgia GEO 0 0 2 2
Morocco MAR 0 0 2 2
Trinidad and Tobago TTO 0 0 2 2
India IND 0 0 1 1
Israel ISR 0 0 1 1
Lithuania LTU 0 0 1 1
Mexico MEX 0 0 1 1
Mongolia MGL 0 0 1 1
Mozambique MOZ 0 0 1 1
Puerto Rico PUR 0 0 1 1
Tunisia TUN 0 0 1 1
Uganda UGA 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Amy Van Dyken USA 4 0 0 4
Michelle Smith IRL 3 0 1 4
Jenny Thompson USA 3 0 0 3
Josh Davis USA 3 0 0 3
Aleksandr Popov RUS
EUN
2 2 0 4
Gary Hall, Jr. USA 2 2 0 4
Aleksey Nemov RUS 2 1 3 6
Liliya Podkopaieva UKR 2 1 0 3
Denis Pankratov RUS
EUN
2 1 0 3
Angel Martino USA 2 0 2 4

All medalists at these Games