1996 Summer Olympics
|Games of the XXVI Olympiad|
|Host city||Atlanta, Georgia, United States|
(6,797 men, 3,523 women)
|Events||271 in 26 sports|
|Opening ceremony||July 19, 1996|
|Closing ceremony||August 4, 1996|
|Officially opened by||President Bill Clinton|
|Athlete's Oath||Teresa Edwards|
|Judge's Oath||Hobie Billingsley|
|Olympic Torch||Muhammad Ali|
|Stadium||Centennial Olympic Stadium|
The 1996 Summer Olympics, formally known as the Games of the XXVI Olympiad and informally known as the Centennial Olympics, were held in 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Atlanta was selected in September 1990 in Tokyo Japan, above Athens, Belgrade, Manchester, Melbourne and Toronto. Some people felt Athens should have had the right to host the games because it marked the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympic games. The IOC's vote for Atlanta was therefore slightly surprising; however, the reasoning behind this decision was that Athens' infrastructure could not be improved enough in time to successfully host the Games. It was later claimed (but never substantiated) that several of the IOC's key voters had been bribed by Atlanta executives in order to quash the other candidate cities' chances for the hosting bid. Other winning bids from Nagano, Sydney, and Salt Lake City have since been similarly scrutinized. The sentimental favorite, Athens, would eventually win the right to host the 2004 Summer Olympics in 1997.
Though the Games made a financial profit, it was not without issues. Numerous observers considered the Games "over commercialized". Problems of traffic congestion sometimes made travel between venues difficult. More seriously, the Centennial Olympic Park bombing of July 27, 1996, killed spectator Alice Hawthorne and wounded 111 others, and elicited the death of Melih Uzunyol by heart attack. In his closing speech, Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the IOC, said: "Welldone, Atlanta".
The games had a profound impact on the city of Atlanta and many in the Atlanta metro area consider the games to be instrumental in transforming Atlanta into the more modern city it has become since. Examples of this are the mid-rise dormitories built for the Olympic village which became the first residential housing for Georgia State University and Turner Field which was a modification of the original Centennial Olympic Stadium.
The Olympiad's official theme, Summon the Heroes, was written by John Williams, making it the third Olympiad for which he has composed. The song "The Power of the Dream", composed by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and David Foster, with words by Linda Thompson was performed in the opening ceremony by Céline Dion accompanied by Foster and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Centennial Choir.
The closing ceremony featured Gloria Estefan singing "Reach", the official theme song of the 1996 Olympics.