1996 Summer Olympics

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The 1996 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXVI Olympiad and unofficially referred to as the Centennial Olympic Games, were an international multi-sport event held in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, from July 19 to August 4, 1996. The fourth Olympics to be hosted by the United States, these Games marked the centenary of the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens—the inaugural edition of the modern Olympic Games.

Overview[edit | edit source]

The 1996 Summer Olympics featured 197 nations, with a record number of athletes participating in a total of 271 events across 26 sports. Notably, these Games saw the debut of softball and women's football as Olympic sports. The Olympic flame was lit by former heavyweight boxing champion and Olympic gold medalist Muhammad Ali, in a moment that has since been etched in the annals of Olympic history.

Bidding Process[edit | edit source]

The selection of Atlanta as the host city was announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on September 18, 1990, during the 96th IOC Session in Tokyo, Japan. Atlanta won the bid over Athens, Toronto, Melbourne, Manchester, and Belgrade. The choice was considered a surprise to many, as Athens had been the favorite, given the historical significance of the centennial anniversary.

Venues[edit | edit source]

The Games utilized a mix of new, existing, and temporary venues. The Centennial Olympic Stadium was constructed for the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the athletics competitions. Post-Games, it was converted into Turner Field, a baseball park. The Georgia Dome hosted gymnastics and basketball, while the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center was the venue for swimming and diving events. The Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and other venues across Georgia were also used, showcasing the city's capacity to host a major international event.

Notable Events[edit | edit source]

- The 1996 Olympics were marred by the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, which occurred on July 27, resulting in two deaths and injuring over a hundred people. The tragedy brought the issues of security at large-scale events to the forefront. - The Games were notable for the performance of the United States women's national soccer team, which won the inaugural Olympic women's football tournament. - Michael Johnson of the United States made history by winning both the 200m and 400m, setting a new world record in the 200m. - The Magnificent Seven, the United States women's gymnastics team, won their first-ever team gold medal, with Kerri Strug's vault landing, despite an injured ankle, becoming one of the most iconic moments in Olympic gymnastics.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

The 1996 Summer Olympics had a significant impact on the city of Atlanta and the broader Olympic movement. The Games were a catalyst for infrastructure improvements and urban renewal in Atlanta. However, the event also faced criticism for commercialization and the handling of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing.

The legacy of the 1996 Olympics continues to be felt, with many of the sporting venues still in use and the city's international profile significantly raised. The Games also contributed to the evolution of security measures for future Olympic Games and large-scale events.

See Also[edit | edit source]

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD