Athletes from 197 countries participated in the Olympics, with 271 awards in 25 sports contested between them. For the first time, individual teams in the Summer Olympics were Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, etc. Women’s soccer, beach volleyball, softball, lightweight crew rowing racing, and mountain bike debuted in the Atlanta Games.
The Russian national team in 1996 competed as an independent country for the first time at the Summer Games. Taking 2nd place in the unofficial all-team competition, the Russian team lost to the USA team. Russian athletes took 26 gold, 21 silver, as well as 16 bronze medals. Most of the medals to the domestic team were brought by fencers, swimmers, track and field athletes and wrestlers.
The organization of the 1996 Summer Olympics was heavily criticized by athletes, officials and journalists. Information system failures, incompetence of volunteers, problems with traffic organization, and excessive commercialization of the Olympic Games were particularly criticized. An important incident was the explosion in the Olympic Park, which occurred on July 27 and for a time obscured the Olympic events. As a result of the bomb planted by the terrorist, 1 person was killed, 1 more died of a heart attack, more than 100 people suffered non-dangerous injuries. But still, despite these tragic events, the Atlanta Olympics are remembered for sporting achievements.
On August 4, 1996, the Closing Ceremony of the Games was held in the Atlanta Olympic Stadium. Many notable American musicians took part in the musical portion of the ceremony. The winners were awarded in the men’s marathon, which took place on the last day of the 1996 Summer Olympics. According to tradition, athletes took part in the parade all together, thus symbolizing Olympic unity. At
the closing ceremony of the Games, IOC President Samaranch did not say his traditional phrase “These Games were the best ever.” During his speech, he paid special attention to the threat of terrorism and called for the memory of the victims of the terrorist attack in Atlanta, as well as the Israeli athletes who died in Munich in 1972. The Olympics flag was lowered from the flagpole and the Olympic banner was solemnly handed to the mayor of the capital of the next Games – Sydney. The closing ceremony ended with a grand fireworks display.