Games of the XXVI Olympiad
19 July - 4 August 1996
The 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the Centennial Olympic Games, got off to a moving start when the cauldron was lit by boxing legend Muhammad Ali. A record-setting 79 nations won medals and 53 won gold.
The Welfare of the Horse Comes First
The heat and humidity expected in Atlanta had led to extensive research and measures to ensure the best possible conditions for the equine athletes were taken. It was found that horses needed three weeks of acclimatisation – seven days to recover from the effects of transport and 14 days of passive acclimatisation to the new climatic conditions. The most significant measure was the installation of 85 misting fans all over the venue, 60 of which were set at the halt boxes on endurance day.
The years leading up to the Atlanta Games saw extensive changes made to the Dressage and Eventing competition formats as well as the creation of an elaborate qualification system in all three disciplines.
Following the IOC’s reasoning whereby two medals could not be awarded for the same effort which would have seen Eventing barred from the Olympic Games, in 1994 the FEI proposed to split Eventing at the Olympics into two competitions: team and individual. The IOC accepted.
For the first time quotas were established in the three Olympic equestrian disciplines. A maximum of 75 riders with 105 horses could qualify in Jumping; 50 riders with 50 horses in Dressage; and 100 riders with as many horses in Eventing. The defending team champions and the host country were pre-qualified in all three disciplines. The remaining starting places had to be earned at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 1994, the FEI European Championships 1995, and the Pan American Games 1995. For the countries of Africa, Asia and Oceania special qualification procedures were established.
Games Facts & Figures
- 197 nations
- 10,318 athletes (3,512 women; 6,806 men)
- 26 sports
- 47,466 volunteers
- 15,108 media (5,695 written press, 9,413 broadcasters)
- For the first time in Olympic history, all 197 recognised National Olympic Committees were represented at the Games.
- Sailor Hubert Raudaschl (AUT) became the first person ever to compete in nine Olympics.