How did the Atlanta Olympics rate overall as Olympics go?

What was the overall impression of the Atlanta Olympics relative to being hosted well? Good, bad or indifferent?

Well, I lived through it and I thought it was great, that bomb notwithstanding. I went to a few events, queued up to see the marathoners on the street, etc. As I have posted recently, we really cleaned up the city and built a cubic assload of nice things that we still have, including our fantastic baseball stadium (now Turner Field).

I ALMOST took a great job with ACOG in early '95, but they didn’t want to pay enough (they used a lot of laid-off or borrowed Coca-Cola folks) and they promised me I’d be unemployed the morning after the closing ceremony. I wound up doing a bunch of work for them anyway.

This guy disagrees, but seems a trifle partisan:

"It was the absolute antidote for Atlanta, the Olympics From Hell. And with Athens, the Olympics From Hell II on deck, at least we’ll have had Sydney, the Olympics it may take the rest of the millennium to meet or beat. "

It was a pretty good Olympics, but that Izzy mascot sucked so bad it almost destroyed the Atlanta Olympics from sheer suckitude.

Am I the only one who thought he looked like a cartoon sperm?


I thoroughly enjoyed them but I’m just a bit biased due to the fact that the whitewater athletes were housed literally across the street from my house and that they competed on the Ocoee River, one of my favorite places to go in the summer when I still lived in Tennessee.

For a fourteen year old living in a small town of 40,000, that was pretty damned cool.

The Atlanta Olympics were portrayed in the media here basically as one stuff-up after another. I can recall negative comments about:

  • bus drivers who got lost because they had been brought in from other cities and didn’t know anything about the geography of Atlanta;
  • faulty electronic timing and data systems;
  • the bomb.

There was also scorn at the rampant commercialism of the Atlanta Olympics. Of course, the Australian media in 1996 weren’t exactly objective observers with the 2000 Olympics to be held in Sydney. If you want your own games to look good, it never hurts to run down those of your predecessor.

One point of criticism that was also mentioned was that the organizers pitched Atlanta as having an average summer temperature of 75F-80F. During the actual games, temperatures on the track were closer to 110, and I think I recall a number of athletes being hurt by the heat.

That is my recollection of the UK reaction as well, and that the Olympics had been turned into the McGames.
I do remember pundits asking if the Olympics were worth holding in the modern world, so the Sydney do was greeted with some surprise “Ah, thats how it should be done!”

As for the actual events themselves, almost everything went quite well. As well as any other comparable Olympics. The very few minor problems were totally blown out of proportion by the international media.

OTOH, there were many non-event related screw ups. The opening and closing ceremonies were horribly botched. ACOG gave out virtually all tickets to interesting events to sponsors so regular people had essentially no chance at them. (But you had to pay in advance, with ACOG returning your money much later, with them pocketing the interest of course.) So ACOG came off looking like a bunch of corrupt jerks.

One thing that really hurt ACOG was that they had to sign a TV contract well before any network wanted to seriously negotiate. (But now they sign up even farther in advance.) So the contract was pitiful, and hence ACOG had to resort to a lot of other methods to raise money. That explains a lot of what happened. If you gave Atlanta the same TV budget as Sydney, you’d have seen something far smoother than Sydney.

As to the temp thing: Yes, they did use creative math (not outright lying). But only a few days were typically hotish. Most of the game took place in very comfortable temps. Note that the ground level temps at all stadiums everywhere during the summer are going to be 100+. That’s why official temps aren’t measured that way. So, overall, the weather was quite good.

The IOC President slamming the games during the closing ceremonies was uncalled for.

The Olympic flame looked like a large McDonald’s french fry box.

Forgive me, it’s been eight years, and I didn’t pay much attention at the time. What did he say, and why?

He had always said something to the effect of “Thank you for the best Olympics ever!” in his closing speeches in previous Olympics. He pointedly did not say that in Atlanta. He also decried the over-commercialization of those Games.

Ah, here’s a good link from back in the day:

I heard a US media-type (sorry, citeless) this week describe Atlanta as the worst Olympics of the past 20 years. Miserable weather, nauseating commercialization, logistics & transportations screwed up everywhere. And, of course, the bomb.