1996 Summer Olympics

Games of the XXVI Olympiad, held in Atlanta in 1996
Atlanta 1996
Games of the XXVI Olympiad
1996 Olympics
1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics
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July 19, 1996
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August 4, 1996
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Olympic Sporting Event
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1996 Summer Olympics
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The 1996 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXVI Olympiad, commonly known as Atlanta 1996, and also referred to as the Centennial Olympic Games, were an international multi-sport event that was held from July 19 to August 4, 1996, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. These Games, which were the fourth Summer Olympics to be hosted by the United States, marked the centennial of the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens—the inaugural edition of the modern Olympic Games. They were also the first since 1924 to be held in a different year from a Winter Olympics, under a new IOC practice implemented in 1994 to hold the Summer and Winter Games in alternating, even-numbered years. More than 10,000 athletes from 197 National Olympic Committees competed in 26 sports, including the Olympic debuts of beach volleyball, mountain biking, and softball, as well as the new disciplines of lightweight rowing and women's football (soccer). 24 countries made their Summer Olympic debut in Atlanta, including eleven former Soviet republics participating for the first time as independent nations. The hosting United States led the medal count with a total of 101 medals, and the most gold (44) and silver (32) medals out of all countries. The U.S. topped the medal count for the first time since 1984, and for the first time since 1968 in a non-boycotted Summer Olympics. Notable performances during competition included those of Andre Agassi—who became the first men's singles tennis player to combine a career Grand Slam with an Olympic gold medal, Donovan Bailey—who set a new world record of 9.84 for the men's 100 meters, and Lilia Podkopayeva—who became the second gymnast to win an individual event gold after winning the all-round title in the same Olympics. The festivities were marred by violence on July 27, when Eric Rudolph detonated pipe bombs at Centennial Olympic Park—a downtown park that was built to serve as a public focal point for the Games' festivities, killing 1 and injuring 111. In 2003, Rudolph confessed to the bombing and a series of related attacks on abortion centers and a gay bar, and was sentenced to life in prison. He claimed that the bombing was meant to protest the U.S. government's sanctioning of "abortion on demand". The Games turned a profit, helped by record revenue from sponsorship deals and broadcast rights, and reliance on private funding (as opposed to the extensive public funding used on later Olympics), among other factors. The Games faced criticism for being overly commercialized, as well as other issues noted by European officials, such as the availability of food and transport. The event had a lasting impact on the city; Centennial Olympic Park led a revitalization of Atlanta's downtown area and has served as a symbol of the Games' legacy, the Olympic Village buildings have since been used as residence housing for area universities, and the Centennial Olympic Stadium has been re-developed twice since the Games—first as the baseball park Turner Field, and then as the college football venue Georgia State Stadium.
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