Top Ten Olympic Scandals and Tragedies

9 – Atlanta Summer Games Bombing (1996)

The moment the bomb is detonated in Atlanta’s Olympic Park. Robert Gee / CNN / WSB

The tragic bombing of Centennial Olympic Park, a popular hub for athletes and spectators, took place during an open-air concert, and claimed the lives of two people. On July 27, 1996, three pipe bombs were discovered in a black sports bag.

Richard Jewell, a security guard who was later considered a prime suspect for the attack, found and reported the bag, and helped security personnel clear the immediate area, so that explosives experts could attempt to defuse it. It exploded at around 1:30 that morning, and one woman died as a nail was drilled into her head by the force of the explosion. Another person died of cardiac arrest at the site.

Richard Jewell was found to be innocent of any wrongdoing, but was the subject of much scrutiny and negative attention from media and the general public. He was also forced to undergo intense interrogations by the FBI.

In the end, the culprit of the 1996 Olympic bombing was found to be Eric Robert Rudolph, a twisted individual who also bombed an abortion clinic, and a lesbian bar, in the Georgia area. Rudolph is currently serving life without the possibility of parole at one of America’s harshest Supermax prisons, ADX Florence.

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