Atlanta admits 'scam of century'

Olympic Games
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The Independent Online
Olympic Games

MIKE ROWBOTTOM

reports from Atlanta

As the Olympic torch was carried through the mid-90 degrees heat of Atlanta yesterday en route to the Centennial Olympic stadium, the local paper reflected uneasily upon "the meteorological scam of the century" which had brought the Games to Georgia.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked, rhetorically, if the president of the Games' organising committee, Billy Payne, would express some contrition for providing less than totally clear data on average summer temperatures to the International Olympic Committee.

Instead of detailing only daytime highs during July and August, it reported, the bidding city gave both the average daytime summer high in Atlanta (around 88 degrees) and the low (69.8). The survey also included cooler months such as May and September.

Average highs for the Games period over the last two years have been around 96.5.

But while Atlanta becomes Hotlanta, its inhabitants and multitude of visitors are patently eager for today's competitive action to begin. The host nation are due to start the proceedings this morning with their opening hockey match against the Netherlands, and medals will be decided in fencing, judo, shooting, weightlifting and swimming. But the main focus of home attention will be on the other end of the day as the United States basketball team take part in their opening match at the Georgia Dome.

"Dream Team III" gets its campaign under way against Argentina at the Georgia Dome. So strongly are the NBA professionals fancied that the odds being quoted in Las Vegas yesterday on them winning gold were 1-75. The nearest-fancied challengers, Croatia, are 25-1.

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