Olympic Marathon: A Centennial History of the Games' Most Storied Race

By Charlie Lovett | Go to book overview

23
The Games of the XXV Olympiad: Barcelona, 1992

If Seoul was notable for its lack of a major boycott, Barcelona will be remembered as the Games of the New World Order. One hundred and seventy-two nations, many of which had not existed four years earlier, competed in the Games. Germany fielded its first unified team since 1952. North Korea and Cuba returned to the Olympic fold after twelve years of absence. Many former Soviet republics fielded their own national teams, though the breakup of the Soviet Union had been so recent that some republics, without time to organize a team, banded together to send the "Unified Team," which would compete under the Olympic flag and hear the Olympic anthem played when its members won medals.

When the Games opened on July 25, a record 10,563 athletes marched into the stadium. Even South Africa had been invited back to the Olympic family after the abolishment of the apartheid system.

The Olympics had been conceived as an amateur competition, and had been conducted for many decades as such, but as the Games approached their centennial, the last vestiges of amateurism were slipping away. There was simply too much money involved in every aspect of the Olympics to expect that Olympic athletes could be amateurs. Most sports in the Barcelona Games opened the doors to professionals, with the most dramatic result being the total dominance of the American "Dream Team," in basketball. Where the Americans had previously fielded a group of college players,

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