Arts + Culture

The Olympics Effect

by Bob Payne

Atlanta, Summer 1996:
The Free Market Olympics

Going for gold:The Atlanta Games were not one of the more stellar performances in Olympics history. As in L.A., the organizers in Atlanta were dedicated to hosting on the cheap—raising so much sponsorship money that we almost expected to see athletes passing a Coca-Cola bottle instead of a torch. And, considering the general mess made of logistics, not knowing which way to run with it.

Tourism legacy: At a cost of $1.7 billion, virtually all of it paid from private sources, the Games at least proved financially solvent. The Atlanta Braves baseball team now plays at what was originally the Olympic Stadium; should you visit Centennial Olympic Park (pictured), get someone to show you where the bomb went off.

Results: Did not finish. We knew what the world thought when the president of the International Olympic Committee, who traditionally ends the event by calling them "the best Games ever," couldn't bring himself to do it.

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