Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics

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The Olympic movement's 100th anniversary celebration was held in Atlanta, Georgia - in Martin Luther King's hometown in the South.

The capital of the south is however also home to major companies like Coca Cola and CNN, both huge sponsors regarded as essential for the Olympic movement's development. It was a relationship that gave rise to many discussions and critique in the selection of the host city for the anniversary of the olympics.

It was expected by many that the 100-year event would be awarded to Athens, which had hosted the first Olympic Games in modern times in 1896. However, a dramatic vote at the IOC meeting on 18 september 1990 in Tokyo allocated votes in the decisive electoral round by 51 votes to 35 for Atlanta and Athens.

In the opening ceremony on July 19 at Atlanta County Stadium the big moment was when a disease weakened Mohammad Ali lit the Olympic flame - 36 years after he named as Cassius Clay had won Olympic gold in light-heavyweight boxing at the olympics in Rome. The official opening of the Olympics in Atlanta was made by President Bill Clinton.

The 23rd Olympic Games in Atlanta was in many ways the record olympics. For the first time in history, more than 10,000 athletes participated in the Olympics. 197 nations were represented at the Atlanta olympics - 30 nations more than in Barcelona four years earlier.

Also the Olympic competition program was record-breaking with 271 events and several new sports - including beach volleyball, mountain biking, lightweight rowing, softball and women's football. The Atlanta olympics featured a plethora of great sporting achievements. Carl Lewis of the USA won his fourth consecutive gold medal in long jump, reaching - as only the fourth athlete in Olympic history - a total of nine gold medals at the Olympics. As the first rower ever Steven Redgrave of Great Britain won gold at four different Olympics, and in the wrestling arena Russia's Aleksandr Karelin impressed with his third consecutive gold medal in the Greco-Roman heavyweight class. From the Olympic stadium it was notable that USA's Michael Johnson and France's Marie-Jose Perec both won double victories in the sprint events over 200 and 400 meters.

The 23rd Olympic Games in Atlanta were not in all ways the magnificent anniversary celebration for the entire sports world, as most had expected. For the first time during his time as IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch at the closing ceremony on august 4 in his farewell speech did not express that the Atlanta olympics were "the best Games ever". He was unable to do so as the organizers organizational problems with an inadequate and chaotic transport system, slow dissemination of results, lack of computer systems, etc. were simply too many.

Despite major safety measures the Atlanta 1996 olympics will also be remembered for a terrorist bomb in Centennial Olympic Park on 28th of July that killed one and injured 110 people.

USA was for the first time since 1984 the most successful nation with a total of 101 medals, including 44 gold medals. In Atlanta 1996 allowing Russia came second, then Germany and China respectively with 26, 20 and 17 Olympic gold medals.

Follow this link for a detailed and interactive medal standing for Atlanta 1996.
The story about the Atlanta Olympics 1996 is based on the official Olympic reports and the Olympian Database.
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