The competition schedule for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta has been put into place.
Atlanta organizers submitted the schedule Sunday to the executive board of the International Olympic Committee, with only the timing of the track and field events still to be finalized."This was a big step," said Billy Payne, chairman of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. "It allows us to make our plans in terms of ticketing, in terms of further transportation planning, volunteer deployment, and really launches a bunch of other incremental issues."
The executive board still must study the schedule in detail, but officials said final approval was considered virtually certain.
Atlanta is staging 16 days of competition - from July 20 to Aug. 4 - in 26 sports. Some 10,000 athletes will compete in a total of 271 events. A series of test events in 18 of the sports will be held in July and August next year, Payne said.
Payne said the final track and field schedule should be completed in the next few months after consultations with the technical delegates of the International Amateur Athletic Federation.
Track and field events are scheduled for July 27 through Aug. 3, with the men's marathon set to be held before the closing ceremony on the evening of Aug. 4.
There have been suggestions that the marathon should be moved to the morning, when the heat and humidity should be less draining on the runners.
"I think there will be some discussion of that, but I don't think it will be that controversial," said Dave Maggard, ACOG's sports director.
IAAF president Primo Nebiolo said he sees no reason to change the marathon, noting that the event was run in the evening in similar hot conditions at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.
ACOG officials also briefed the IOC on general progress in construction, transportation and marketing.
"We told them we're still on schedule and on budget," Payne said.
IOC officials were relieved to hear that construction of venues was in full swing.
"Historically, we've had difficulty in convincing everybody that with our American capability and technology we can build things very fast, that they shouldn't be concerned, that we're on schedule," Payne said. "The international community has just recently been able to grasp that concept as they see things coming out of the ground."
IOC director general Francois Carrard said: "Two things struck the executive board: the schedule of construction work and closer ties with the international federations. Construction has always been a matter of concern."
Payne also gave the IOC the "broad parameters" of the July 19 opening ceremony, which he said should emphasize the athletes - "the real stars of the show." The first full outline of the ceremony will be presented to the IOC in December, he said.
ACOG officially informed the IOC of the decision to move the volleyball preliminary competition from Cobb County to the University of Georgia in Athens. The move, announced last month, was precipitated by an anti-gay resolution passed last year in Cobb County.
Payne said the beach volleyball venue remains unsettled. The sport, making its Olympic debut in 1996, is scheduled to be held in Savannah but may be moved due to a shortage of hotel rooms and complaints that the site is too far from Atlanta.
Savannah has been confirmed as the site for yachting.
Anita DeFrantz, the U.S. member on the executive board, asked ACOG officials to confirm that the Savannah Yacht Club is not connected in any way to the Olympic competition. The club has come under scrutiny because it currently has no black members.
"The Savannah Yacht Club is not part of the plan, never was and never will be," DeFrantz. "I'm glad they made it clear. It's not an issue for me since it's not part of the Games."
Sail Harbor Marina on Wilmington Island will serve as the marina for Olympic boats. The boats will launch from Williamson Island east of Savannah.
Also briefing the IOC board Sunday were organizers of the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
Nagano organizers were surprised by a request from IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch to consider adding snowboarding to their program of sports. Nagano, which agreed previously to add curling and women's ice hockey, said it would study the request, which involve extra costs and facilities.
Sydney introduced its recently-appointed executive director, Gary Pemberton.
"It was pretty straight forward," he said. "We've got no big issues, no decisions. It was just a matter of reporting in a fairly routine way what was happening."
With the close of executive board meetings Sunday, the Centennial Olympic Congress takes center stage this week. After the arrival of the Olympic flame Monday afternoon and the opening ceremony Monday night, officials from around the world will spend four days debating the future of the 100-year-old movement.