The Games Greece ‘lost’
July 19 to August 4
197 countries; 10 318 athletes; 271 events
THESE?GAMES marked the centenary of the Olympic Games and it was widely felt they should have returned to the ancestral home of Greece where they started in 1896.
Greece won the first two rounds of voting, tied with Atlanta in the third round and then lost the next two rounds. Atlanta became the third American City behind St Louis (1904) and Los Angeles (1932, 1984) to host the Summer Games, and for the first time in Olympic history, all 197 recognized National Olympic Committees took part.
Fourteen countries made their debut, including Dominica, St Lucia and St Kitts and Nevis.
A vote was taken to remove demonstration sports from the Olympic Games, but beach volleyball, mountain biking, lightweight rowing and women’s football were added to the programme for the first time. Women’s softball was also introduced.
Muhammad Ali, who had won a gold medal at the 1960 Games in Rome, lit the cauldron during the opening ceremony. Ali, who said he had thrown away the medal after being refused service at a whites only restaurant, was given a replacement medal during the games.
Highlights of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games
• Barbadian Obadele Thompson reached the semi-finals of the 100 metres and finished fourth in the 200 metres.
• Leah Martindale, of Barbados, finished fifth in the women’s 50-metre freestyle and was the first black woman to reach an Olympic swimming final.
• Sailor Hubert Raudaschl, of Austria, became the first person to compete in nine Olympic Games.
• France’s Marie-José Pérec won the women’s 200 and 400 metres, defending her title in the 400 metres.
• American Michael Johnson became the first man to win the 200 and 400 metres, speeding to a world record 19.32 seconds in the latter event which stood until 2008.
• Cycling professionals were admitted to the Olympic Games for the first time.
• Three professionals, regardless of age or experience were allowed in the men’s football teams.
• At age 35, American Carl Lewis won his fourth long jump gold medal.
• Andre Agassi, of the United States, became the first man to complete the Grand Slam during the season and then win gold in the tennis singles at the Olympics.
• Deon Hemmings became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal for Jamaica with a record 52.82 seconds in the 400 metres hurdles.
• Canadian Donovan Bailey won the men’s 100 metres in a world record 9.84 seconds.
• Frankie Fredericks, of Namibia, won silver medals in both the men’s 100 (9.89) and 200 (19.68) metres races.