Olympic Games: Maligned Atlanta meets targets

Billy Payne, head of the Atlanta Committee for this summer's Olympics, has announced that the Games broke even.

Payne confirmed that the Games would meet their pounds 1.1bn budget. "We will break even, and maybe have a few dollars left over, but not much," Payne said. "We will tell the IOC [International Olympic Committee] that our expense and revenue targets were met."

The Atlanta Games were the first financed entirely by private funds. After recent speculation of a possible deficit, the IOC was anxious to get Payne's assurance that the Games would finish in the black.

Payne's report to the IOC comes amid continuing criticism of Atlanta. A report prepared by European Olympic officials is scathing on several issues. It says the Olympic village was cramped and overcrowded, the food was bad, transportation was a mess and the ambience created by over- commercialism was "cheap and tawdry".

Meanwhile, the IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, has praised the Barcelona Games as the best of all time and said the Atlanta Olympics were marred by a long list of shortcomings.

Samaranch said he did not proclaim the Atlanta Games with the usual post- Olympic superlative because of the multitude of problems ranging from transport bottlenecks to technology failures. "I was right by not talking of the `best Games ever'," Samaranch claimed.

He said that he had also withheld the superlative "best Games ever" after the Sarajevo Winter Olympics in 1984, in Albertville in 1992 and "I believe also in Los Angeles in 1984".

"I only say that when it is true. No one can dispute that Lillehammer were the best Winter Games and Barcelona the best Summer Games."

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