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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | Postcript

Times staff writers take a look back at the Centennial Games

August 05, 1996|GARY RUBIN

As near as I could see, there were two sets of Games, polar opposites.

There were the end Games, a wonderful gathering of athletes from all over the world, who put on spectacular and breathtaking performances.

All Olympics should be this good.

Then there were the other Games, the ones designed to wring the most money out of the most people. Let's hope we never see anything as crass again.

The streets lining Olympic Centennial Park were one long string of souvenir stands, pin traders, T-shirt vendors and anything else one could hawk.

The park itself was a great idea gone berserk. There were the commemorative bricks, bought by the thousands to help build the park, and the park's centerpiece, the fountain, which helped cool off visitors.

But everything else in the park was commercial--Swatch on one side, AT&T on another, a Superstore to fill every tourist's need for Olympic souvenirs.

The most offensive, most insidious, was Bud World. There, once inside, you could observe Bud signs, listen to Bud commercials and of course, order Bud beer. Lighted like a discotheque, Bud World was open to all. There was no age limit, no checking of ID.

And that meant children were ushered in. Bud executives will be tickled when, in a few years, some of those kids begin drinking Bud, probably earlier than they should. What price sales?

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