The Goodwill Games were an international sports competition created by Ted Turner in reaction to the political troubles surrounding the Olympic Games of the 1980s. In 1979, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan caused the United States and other Western countries to boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, an act reciprocated when the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries (with the exception of Romania) boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Like the Olympics, the Goodwill Games were held every four years (with the exception of the final Games), and had a summer and winter component. The Summer Goodwill Games occurred five times, between 1986 and 2001, while the Winter Goodwill Games occurred only once, in 2000. They were cancelled by Time Warner, which had bought ownership of them in 1996, due to low television ratings after the 2001 games in Brisbane.
The first Goodwill Games, held in Moscow in 1986, featured 182 events and attracted over 3,000 athletes representing 79 countries. World records were set by Sergey Bubka (pole vault), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (heptathlon), and both the men and women's 200 m cycle racing, by East Germany's Michael Hübner and the Soviet Union's Erika Salumäe, respectively. World records also fell at the 1990 Games in Seattle, to Mike Barrowman in the 200 m breaststroke and Nadezhda Ryashkina in the 10 km walk.
The 1994 Games in Saint Petersburg, Russia were the first competition held since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Russians set five world records in the weightlifting section, and the games were the first major international event to feature beach volleyball, which would appear at the Olympics for the first time at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
In October 1996, Turner's company, the Turner Broadcasting System, merged with Time Warner, thus bringing the Goodwill Games under the control of the latter. Ted Turner's last games were in 1998 in New York City, with memorable highlights including Joyner-Kersee winning her fourth straight heptathlon title, the U.S. 4 × 400 m relay team setting a world's best time, plus Michelle Kwan and Todd Eldridge winning the gold in figure skating, and Dominique Moceanu capturing the women's gymnastics gold medal with a dominant performance. Time Warner organized the 2001 Games in Brisbane, Australia, before announcing that this would be the last edition of the games. With the cancellation of the games, Phoenix, Arizona and Calgary lost their respective summer and winter games, scheduled for 2005. The 2001 edition witnessed Australia winning the most medals with 75, but it received very low television ratings in the United States. Nevertheless, critics praised Turner Network Television for showing the games live, rather than on tape delay.
During a live interview at the 2009 Denver SportAccord conference, Turner blamed the demise of the games on the short-sighted management of Time Warner, and stated, "If I'd have stayed there the Goodwill Games would not have been canceled." Turner expressed hope that the games would return as a bridge to restore cultural contact between Russia and the U.S., stating that the relationship between the two had steadily disintegrated since the Cold War, which he called a dangerous situation due to both countries' massive nuclear arsenals. He also reiterated his belief in the power of international sporting competitions to prevent war, saying that "as long as the Olympics are taking place and not being boycotted, it's virtually impossible to have a world war", because the nations involved "wouldn't want a war to mess up their chances".
Summer Goodwill Games
Host cities of the Goodwill Games
- The 2001 Goodwill Games were the final edition
Winter Goodwill Games
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