1996: The shape of things to come
Olympic Games: Flame acquires new meaning
Monday 01 January 1996
Summertime temperatures in Georgia's capital city reach up towards the 100F mark. A survey conducted in 1993 over the equivalent Olympic period - 20 July to 4 August - showed an average temperature of 93.7F (34.3C) at 6.00pm. That is less than comforting news for the men's marathon runners, who are scheduled to set off just half an hour after that time in the centrepiece event of the Games' final day. No medals are on offer for the most convincing impression of an Olympic flame.
The leading runners are due to finish at around 9.30pm - which will correspond to 3.30am in Britain, given Atlanta's six-hour relative time lag in the summer. The majority of the athletics finals will be taking place in the early hours in Britain, with exceptions such as the women's marathon, which is due to finish at around 6pm (noon in Atlanta).
To a greater or lesser extent, every competitor at these Games will undergo a trial by fire - excepting, perhaps, the swimmers and divers who will compete in the self-styled Georgia Tech Natatorium, due to be built within the Olympic Ring, an imaginary circle with a radius of 1.5 miles in the heart of the city. The Ring encircles the Olympic stadium, the Olympic Village and the main Olympic Centre, which provides venues for 11 sports including basketball, gymnastics and hockey.
A further range of events, such as tennis, rowing and cycling, will take place in the Olympic Park at Stone Mountain, 27km away from the Olympic Village.
The privately funded $207m (pounds 135m) Olympic stadium, which is still being completed, will seat 85,000 people. Within eight months of the Games, it will have its capacity reduced to 45,000 and become home to the Atlanta Braves baseball team.
An estimated eight million tickets will be sold for the Games. Around two million visitors are expected at the various venues, and the likely TV audience is estimated at about two-thirds of the world's population.
A programme of 26 sports at Atlanta will include several additional events to the last Olympic Games, such as the women's triple jump, beach volleyball and team synchronised swimming. However, there will be no place for solo or duet synchronised swimming, and no demonstration sports.
The Games mascot - "a futuristic, animated, computer-generated character with large starry eyes and a big grin, oversized sneakers and lightning bolt eyebrows" - breaks with Olympic tradition in that it corresponds to no identifiable creature and can assume different forms.
The original name of Whatizit has itself changed to Izzy - a subliminal reminder, perhaps, of the firm which operates out of Atlanta and which many still believe was influential in persuading the International Olympic Committee not to award the Games to the hosts of the original 1896 modern Games, Athens. They call them the Coca-Cola Games.
PREDICTION: China look set to make an even bigger splash than they did at Barcelona in 1992.
Latest in Sport
Gareth Bale reveals the two things he hates about Real Madrid: 'Getting nutmegged and Spanish spiders'
Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid superstar 'sends his hair stylist to look after his waxwork once a month'
Six things we learnt: Louis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United; Henderson becoming the genuine heir to Gerrard
Terminally-ill Club Brugge fan Lorenzo Schoonbaert delays euthanasia appointment to see his beloved football club 'win one last time'
Steven Gerrard tribute match: An alternative XI the Liverpool player wouldn't want crashing the Anfield party
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 3 Bali nine: Welcome to 'Execution Island' – the Indonesian holiday resort where foreigners are sent to die
- 4 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
- 5 Why you're almost certainly more like your father than your mother
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...
£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...
£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...
£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...