Atlanta Olympiad

September 23, 1990

Congratulations to Atlanta for winning the 1996 Olympic Games over Athens, sentimental favorite and site of the 1896 first modern Olympiad. It is not possible to put on the map a city already there as world headquarters of Coca-Cola, the most ubiquitous product in the world. But in future editions, the dot for Atlanta will be larger. Congratulations as well to U.S. television for winning the Games only 12 years after the spectacularly remunerative 1984 Los Angeles Games. At last we will have an Olympiad on East Coast time.

The 1988 Seoul Games symbolized the arrival of the Pacific Rim. The 1992 Games in Barcelona, the provincial Spanish port poised to gain the most from Western Europe's single market, will proclaim the one-ness and renewal of Europe. Atlanta symbolizes -- hang on, here -- the brother-and-sisterhood of all athletes and all humanity. It's not Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind" Atlanta being honored, but Martin Luther King's.

The principal salesman flitting about the world in behalf of this outcome was the former mayor, congressman and ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young. The winning mayor is Maynard Jackson. With the growing role of African and Asian delegates on the International Olympic Committee, it's not the Atlanta of peachtrees and memory that won this bonanza but the Atlanta of the big skyline and MARTA subway, the Atlanta of the black majority and recent racial harmony. Boosters take note: The civil rights revolution of the 1960s made this civic coup possible.

The political implications are formidable. Domestic harmony, as symbolized by Atlanta, must be complemented by a foreign policy that does not provoke boycotts.

Most of the facilities needed are already there. The new construction fits into Atlanta's growth plan, especially Olympic Village dormitories for Georgia Tech and an Olympic Stadium where future Braves will play baseball. All-in-all, it's good for Georgia that Andrew Young lost the primary for governor. Had he won, he would have too busy to do this ultimate sales job for his town.

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