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For the first time since 1972, the Games were boycott-free, due to important global political changes. Apartheid had been abolished in South Africa. Then there was the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of West and East Germany. Communism had ended and the Soviet Union was divided into 15 separate countries which participated as a "unified team”.
Baseball debuted as a full medal discipline having appeared as an exhibition or demonstration sport at six previous Games. Badminton and women’s judo were also added to the Olympic programme, and Spain’s coxswain in the eights, 11-year-old Carlos Front, became the youngest Olympic competitor since 1900.
Men's basketball became open to all professionals and the US sent a "Dream Team" of superstars including Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. Needless to say they dominated the event and won gold. Another impressive performer was gymnast Vitaly Scherbo, who won six golds, including four in one day.
In the last lap of the 10,000m final, Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia darted into the lead and went on to win. At the finishing line, she waited for her opponent Elana Meyer, a white South African. They set off hand-in-hand for a victory lap that symbolised hope for a new Africa.
Athletes: 9,356 (2,704 women, 6,652 men)
Media: 13,082 media (5,131 written press, 7,951 broadcasters)
For the first time since 1972, the Olympic Games were boycott-free.
In the years that followed the 1988 Games, the world witnessed important political changes. Apartheid was abolished in South Africa, which allowed the country to participate in the Olympic Games again, for the first time since 1960. Then there was the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of West and East Germany, as well as North and South Yemen. Communism was wiped out in the Soviet Union and the USSR was divided into 15 separate countries. At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the independent teams of Estonia and Latvia made their first apparition since 1936 and Lithuania sent its first team since 1928. The other ex-Soviet republics participated as a "unified team", although the winners were honoured under the flags of their own republics.
Andreas Keller of the gold medal-winning German field hockey team was the third generation of his family to win a medal in the event. His grandfather, Erwin, earned a silver medal in 1936 and his father, Carsten, a gold in 1972.
The only controversy concerned Yugoslavia, which was the subject of United Nations sanctions because of its military aggression against Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the end, Yugoslavia was banned from taking part in any team sports, but individual Yugoslav athletes were allowed to compete as "independent Olympic participants". Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina competed as separate nations for the first time.
In the men's coxed eights rowing final, Canada beat Romania by less than 30 centimetres -one of the closest rowing final in Olympic history.
Another close contest was the women's 100m sprint. Merlene Ottey (JAM) finished only six-hundredths of a second behind the winner, Gail Devers (USA), and yet she ended up in only fifth place.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) launched an appeal for the observance of the Olympic Truce for the first time.
Baseball, which had appeared as an exhibition or demonstration sport at six Olympic Games, finally achieves medal status.
During the 95th Session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), held in Puerto Rico in 1989, it was decided that demonstration sports would be eliminated definitively from the 1996 Atlanta Games onwards.
Up until the 1992 Olympic Games (Barcelona and Albertville), 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.
Badminton and women's judo are also added to the Olympic programme.
Spain's coxswain in the eights, 11-year-old Carlos Front, was the youngest competitor in the Olympic Games since 1900.
Barcelona, 25 July 1992. Acts at the Opening Ceremony. Puppets with the colours of the Games' logo.
Official opening of the Games by:
His Majesty King Juan Carlos I
Lighting the Olympic Flame by:
Antonio Rebollo (paralympic archer)
Olympic Oath by:
Luis Doreste Blanco (sailing)
Official Oath by:
Eugeni Asencio (water polo)
The official emblem, designed by Josep Maria Trias from Barcelona, depicted a dynamic human figure in a stance that suggested someone jumping an obstacle (which consisted of the five Olympic rings) and the simple, gestual lines reduced the characterisation of the figure to the head (in the blue of the Mediterranean), the arms (the yellow of the sun and wide open in sign of hospitality) and the legs (a vivid red).
On the obverse, a medallion 56mm in diameter, superimposed on the medal and slightly off-centre, on which the image of the goddess of victory appeared, drawn in a Modernist style, together with the words "XXV Olimpíada Barcelona 1992". On the reverse the official emblem of the Barcelona Games. The medal was designed by the sculptor Xavier Corberó.
The name Cobi is an allusion to COOB'92, an abbreviation of the Barcelona'92 Olympic Organising Committee. The name was chosen because it is simple and easy to pronounce in most languages.
Number of torchbearers : 9 849 including 365 in Greece and 9 849 in Spain
Total distance : 367 km in Greece and 5 940 in Spain (not included transport by boat)
Countries crossed : Greece, Spain
The Organising Committee for the Barcelona Olympic Games developed a highly ambitious project, which involved 58 different posters grouped in four collections : the official Olympic posters, the painters' posters, the designers' posters and the photographic sports posters. For the four official sports posters and the eight painters' posters, in addition to the normal print run there was a limited edition in silk-screen and lithograph signed be the authors, which the Organising Committee used as prestige gifts for the VIPs who visited Barcelona. Here one of the official posters with the emblem created by Josep M. Trias.
COOB’92 was the first Organising Committee to offer an official report in four separate editions. Indeed, the “Official report of the Games of the XXV Olympiad Barcelona 1992” exists in French, English, Spanish and Catalan. Each edition consists of five volumes (The challenge; The means; The organisation; The Games; The results). Volume 5 was quadrilingual, so identical for each edition, and came with two diskettes containing the biographies of the Olympic medallists.