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Despite fear and anger, Olympic spirit prevails

July 27, 1996
Web posted at: 9:30 p.m. EDT

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Hours after a deadly bomb shattered the festive mood at Centennial Olympic Park, the Olympic Games continued Saturday -- but at a slower and more somber pace.

Image of security guard

Despite the planting of the bomb that killed one person and injured more than 110 others, the crowds were still large, the ticket sellers were wheeling and dealing and the souvenir vendors were finding willing customers.

With rainstorms and security delays at several venues, it was hard to determine whether the bomb had had any impact on Games attendance. The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games estimated most venues Saturday were about 90 percent full.

Image of woman

But the faces, smiling and animated on Friday, were more somber on Saturday -- the day of the bombing.

"I am really nervous, but I will go because I don't want to let this man or woman, whoever has done it, win," said Kerstin Hoppe, an Olympic visitor.

"This is an event where the human community is supposed to come together, and when you hear about an incident like that, it really saddens me. I mean, I got on the bus and I just felt sad," another visitor, Beth Crary, said.

Bombing prompts anger, shock

The park was barricaded Saturday while investigators searched for leads and any other possible explosive devices. At Olympic Stadium, about two miles from the park, spectators arrived Saturday morning for the second day of track and field events.

Sound icon Many were stunned and angry about the bomb but said they were determined nothing would dampen their Olympic spirit. While security teams swept the stadium and surrounding grounds, ticket holders were kept well outside the perimeter. (204K AIFF or WAV sound)

Image of woman

Mounted police and officers from county, state and federal agencies fanned out -- restricting access to the vicinity until the search was completed.

Spectators then slowly made their way through heightened security checkpoints, walking through metal detectors, having their bags hand-checked.

Were the long lines a frustration Saturday?

"No," one woman said. "They have to do what they have to do to make sure everyone's safe."

Still, some people were visibly shaken, longing for the days when this type of fear was far from their thoughts. One woman started to cry as she described how the bomb robbed her and others of their enthusiasm for the games. (111K AIFF or WAV sound)

'How quick things change'

Image of man

Another man at the stadium said the bomb "reminds you how quick things can change and how unfortunate it is we live in the world that we do."

One father said while he was determined not to let terrorism win, a family member was not so brave.

"We'd invited her to come and she was still thinking about it," he said. " Two of my children came -- but when there was a bomb, she wasn't coming."

During a moment of silence at the Stadium, the crowd quietly stood in the rain, their mere presence the strongest testament to their belief in the Olympic spirit.


From Correspondents Bonnie Anderson and Brian Cabell.


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