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The 1996 Games were given a dramatic and emotional start when the cauldron was lit by sporting legend Muhammad Ali. However, on 27 July tragedy struck when a terrorist bomb exploded in the Centennial Olympic Park. Two people died and a further 110 people were injured.
For the first time in Olympic history, all 197 recognised National Olympic Committees were represented at the Games. Beach volleyball, mountain biking, lightweight rowing and women's football made their first appearance and sailor Hubert Raudaschl (AUT) became the first person ever to compete in nine Olympic Games.
In track and field, Marie-José Pérec, the French athlete, won the 200m and successfully defended her 400m title. She became the most successful French female athlete of all time and the first athlete to win the 400m twice. Not to be outdone, Michael Johnson of the US became the first man in Olympic history to run and win both the 200m and 400m. His victory over 200m in 19.32 seconds established a new world record.
Turkish weightlifter Naim Suleymanoglu became the first weightlifter in history to win three consecutive Olympic titles. "When he eats at a restaurant, nobody asks him to pay the bill; if he breaks the speed limit, he does not get fined, and the police wish him a pleasant journey," wrote a Turkish journalist.
Athletes: 10,318 (3,512 women, 6,806 men)
Media: 15,108 media (5,695 written press, 9,413 broadcasters)
During the 96th IOC Session, in September 1990 in Tokyo, International Olympic Committee members voted in the final round for Atlanta (51 votes) over Athens (35 votes).
Next to the site of the main competition venues was an open area known as the Centennial Olympic Park. The park appeared to be part of the Games, but was not actually a part of the Olympic security system. In the early hours of 27 July, a bomb exploded in the park, resulting in the death of two people and the injury of 110 more.
Athletes from a record-breaking 79 countries won medals and 53 countries won gold medals.
Sailor Hubert Raudaschl (AUT) became the first person ever to compete in nine Olympics. Before he began his streak in 1964, he was a reserve in 1960.
Tennis player Virag Csurgo (HUN) was entered in the doubles event only. On the morning of 24 July, she was helping a team-mate to warm up when she was informed that one of the singles entrants had failed to appear and Csurgo could take her place if she showed up for the first round match which was to begin in five minutes' time. Wearing her practice shorts and a t-shirt, Csurgo hurried over to the court and actually won the match.
In the second round of the middleweight (82kg) freestyle wrestling tournament, Elmadi Jabrailov of Kazakhstan faced Lucman Jabrailov of Moldova. The two were brothers from Chechnya, but chose not to represent Russia because of its war against their homeland. Elmadi won the high-scoring but unusually friendly encounter by 10 points to 8.
For the first time in Olympic history, all 197 recognized National Olympic Committees were represented at the Games.
Beach volleyball, mountain biking, lightweight rowing and women's football made their first appearance
Professionals were admitted to the cycling events.
A women-only sport was introduced: softball.
Each team that qualified for the football tournament was allowed to include three professionals, regardless of age or olympic experience.
Some demonstration sports were included in various editions of the Olympic Games up until 1992. The Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs) could integrate demonstration sports into the Olympic programme. However, the organisation of these demonstrations created a lot of extra work for the OCOGs, which had to provide services that were almost identical to those for the sports on the Olympic programme. Therefore, at the 95th Session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), held in 1989 in Puerto Rico, it was decided that demonstration sports would be eliminated definitively from the 1996 Atlanta Games onwards.
Celebration in the Olympic Stadium for the Centenary Games.
Official opening of the Games by:
President Bill Clinton
Lighting the Olympic Flame by:
Muhammad Ali (boxing)
Olympic Oath by:
Teresa Edwards (basketball)
Official Oath by:
Hobie Billingsly (diving)
The base of the torch mark logo, made of the five Rings and the number 100, resembles a classical Greek column and recognizes the centennial of the Games. The torch mark's flames gradually evolve into a perfect star symbolizing each athlete's pursuit of excellence. The gold colour in this logo represents gold medals. The green represents laurel branches worn by winners in ancient times, as well as Atlanta's reputation as the City of Trees.
On the obverse, a drawing that has been in use since the Amsterdam Games of 1928, representing Nike, the goddess of victory, holding palms in her left hand, and, in her right hand, held over her head, a winner's crown. On the reverse, the logo of the 1996 Games and a stylized olive branch. In all, 633 gold medals, 635 silver, and 661 bronze medals were cast for these Games.
Originally called “Whatizit”, the name Izzy was chosen by 32 American children aged from 7 to 12 from among the following five names: Kirby, Starz, Zack, Gleamer and Izzy. This shortlist was produced from the more than 3,300 suggestions from children in 16 different countries.
Number of torchbearers: around 800 in Greece and 12 467 in the United States
Total distance: 2 141 in Greece and 26 875 km in the United States
Countries crossed: Greece, United States
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Juan Antonio Samaranch, chose this image drawn by an artist from "The Look of the Games", Primo Angeli, as the official poster for the 1996 Olympic Games. "The Look of the Games", was established by the Creation Department to ensure the best quality in the design and production of all visible materials for the Atlanta Games.
“The Official Report of the Centennial Olympic Games: Atlanta 1996” marked a return to a more sober and traditional form. There were French and English box sets, published in 1997. The work consisted of three volumes (Planning and organizing; The centennial Olympic Games; The competition results). Volume 3 was bilingual.