In July 1992, Barcelona played host to the summer Olympics. As reported, "For the first time since 1972, the Games were boycott-free, due to important global political changes. Apartheid had been abolished in South Africa. Then there was the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of West and East Germany. Communism had ended and the Soviet Union was divided into 15 separate countries which participated as a 'Unified Team' (and won 2 bronze medals in tennis)." 

South African Wayne Ferreira told 'The New York Times', "When we were growing up, we never had the chance to play Davis Cup or the Olympics, and there wasn't a lot to look forward to. We hope this will inspire them. Coming into the Olympics, we weren't going to play for ourselves, only for our country. If it is only one we bring back, we wanted to be the ones." The South Africans won the silver in the men's doubles tennis event. 

In all, some 9,356 athletes from 169 countries were competing in 257 events. In tennis, 64 men and 64 women representing 32 different nations were entered into the six-round Grand Slam-style format. There were also 64 doubles teams. The event would be held on the slow red clay surface at Vall d'Hebron which comprised "a 10,000 seat stadium court, two show courts with a 3,500-seat and 1,500-seat capacity, and 5 auxiliary courts." 

Goran Ivanisevic representing "the newly born nation of Croatia" made the comment, "It's not the same as Wimbledon but I'm a Croatian, we are a new country and any medal is important." Croatia won two bronze medals in the tennis men's singles and doubles. Boris Becker and Michael Stich won gold for Germany in the men's doubles. Boris insisted, "It can not compare to winning Wimbledon. You win that for yourself. Today I was playing for my country." 

Jim Courier remarked, "I see it as kind of the 5th Grand Slam of the year." Jennifer Capriati defeated Steffi Graf to win gold for the United States and at 16 at the time made history being the youngest Olympic tennis champion. In her semifinal match against Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Jennifer Capriati was leading 6-3, 2-2 when King Juan Carlos, Prince Felipe and the rest of the Royal family of Spain took their seats alongside the 8,500 spectators. "I didn't know who they were," Jennifer recounted. "I just thought, 'I wish those people wouldn't come in now,' and then when the trainer told me who they were, I thought, 'O.K., you can come in and go out any time you want to.'" 

Adam Taylor of 'Business Insider' reported in 2012, "Nowadays we think of the Spanish city as a land of sun, sand and sangria, but it was easy to forget that before the Games in 1992, it was a somewhat different place. For one thing, it didn’t really have a beach before — the city created 2 miles of beachfront and a modern marina by demolishing industrial buildings on the waterfront before the Games. 

"The city had become an industrial backwater under the long rule of General Franco, who was perhaps angry at the city’s Catalan population for its resistance during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). The Olympics represented a significant effort to restructure the city. Crucially the Games seemed to change the way people (around the world) thought of Barcelona. Between 1990 and 2001 the country went from being the 11th 'best city' in Europe to the 6th, according to one ranking. The International Olympic Committee says that 20 years after the Games, Barcelona is now (in 2012) the 12th most popular city destination for tourists in the world, and the 5th in Europe." 

Justin Clark of the 'Los Angeles Times' reported in 2015, "Prior to the 1992 Olympics, Barcelona was known as the regional capital that Spain’s long-reigning dictator Francisco Franco had purposely forgotten - as retribution for opposition to his rule. When Barcelona was awarded the Games in 1986, more than a decade after Franco’s death, the city still had a dysfunctional airport, maddening congestion, and an inaccessible waterfront blighted by industry. Then it won its Olympics bid. 

"Channeling an extraordinarily high percentage of its Olympic budget - nearly 85% - toward infrastructure improvements, Barcelona converted its waterfront into a center of nightlife and tourism and became the rare major European city to offer an enjoyable sand and surf experience. It also constructed a ring road, and brought its airport up to international standards, eventually becoming the 5th-most visited city in Europe and halving its unemployment rate in the process." 

Reporting from Barcelona back in July 1992, Phil Hersh of the 'Chicago Tribune' informed the American public, "On July 25 (1992), when the King of Spain enters the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremonies, he will be saluted with a pair of flags. One will be the flag of his country, the other the flag of its most prosperous region, Catalonia. Both flags are red and yellow, a similarity tinged with irony. 

"For Spain and Catalonia have a relationship colored deeply by historical, political and cultural differences that will only be underlined by having the XXVth (25th) Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Take the name of the Games. In Spanish, it is 'Los Juegos Olimpicos'; in Catalan, 'Els Jocs Olimpics'. The variation there is slight, but language is one of the many important barriers between Madrid, the Spanish capital, and Barcelona, the Catalan capital. 

"The two cities are separated by 360 miles and immeasurable distrust. The last time King Juan Carlos attended a ceremony in the Olympic Stadium, for instance, he was whistled by some 6,000 Catalan nationalists. Whistling is the European equivalent of booing, and booing the king is considered somewhat more insulting and unusual than, say, razzing Richie Daley (the 43rd Mayor of Chicago). 

"While some passed it off as the action of a few, others would say it accurately represented Catalans' reaction to everything coming from the province of Castile and its capital, Madrid, also the seat of the Spanish government. That is why the King was politely and firmly told to stay away when the Olympic torch, lighted in Greece and carried across the Mediterranean on a ship, made its Spanish landfall last month (June 1992) in the Catalan city of Empuries, colonized by the Greeks 2,600 years ago (in 575BC). 

"Instead of the King, the torch greeting party included a young man carrying an English banner that said, 'Freedom for Catalonia'. He was uninvited but not unwelcome. And, while the rest of Spain celebrates the 500th anniversary of (Christopher) Columbus' first voyage to the New World (the US in 1492), the Catalans want little to do with it, even though a huge Columbus statue stands in a prominent position on Barcelona's waterfront. 

"Catalans note that Columbus' purpose in coming to Barcelona after the first voyage was to be received by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, those interlopers from Castile. Among the graffiti in Barcelona today (in July 1992) is this politically correct message: 'Columbus genocide'. Consider also the case of Olympic tennis player Emilio Sanchez and his sister, Aranxta Sanchez Vicario, whose family has lived in Barcelona for two decades (since 1972). 

"He was born in Madrid, speaks mainly Spanish and is routinely jeered in Barcelona, including the day when he won a tournament at his own club. She was born in Barcelona, speaks fluent Catalan and is a local hero. The locals would like there to be no doubt that these are the Olympics of Catalonia and not of Spain. That issue has been debated since October 17, 1986, when the International Olympic Committee finally awarded them to Barcelona, an unsuccessful bidder for the Olympics of 1924, 1936 and 1972."

It was noted the Ottoman Empire which emerged in 1300 was abolished in 1924 when the empire was replaced by the Republic of Turkey. In 1993, then Turkey's Prime Minister, Tansu Ciller made the point why Istanbul should host the 2000 Summer Games which went to Sydney, Australia, "Jews, Christians and Muslims have lived together there for centuries." Tennis was part of the first Olympic Games in Athens 1896. However after Paris 1924, tennis was removed from the Olympics because of the amateur rules of the time - until Seoul 1988 when tennis became an official medal sport at the Olympics again.

The 'Chicago Tribune' continued, "The IOC's president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, is a personification of the problem. Even the spelling of his name, which he prefers in its Castilian form rather than the Catalan (which would be Joan Antoni), causes him contention. Samaranch is a native of Barcelona who spent much of his adult life in the civil service of a federal regime that repressed his fellow Catalans.

"In his home town, Samaranch is both blessed for having brought the economic boon that came along with the Olympics and damned for having been a functionary of dictator Francisco Franco. It must be remembered, however, that most everyone in power in contemporary Spain had some affiliation with Franco's government … But the flag of Catalonia will be raised and its anthem heard at the Opening Ceremonies.

"And what is Catalonia? It is one of Spain's 17 autonomous regions, encompassing 5% of Spanish territory and 16% of its population while producing 25% of the country's industrial production and tax revenues. But the system of regional autonomy does not allow Catalonia to levy its own taxes, a point stressed by those who seek Catalan independence.

"Catalonia was a powerful independent country throughout the Middle Ages, with its 12th-century domain extending west through Aragon and north into France. Its independence ended in the Spanish nationalism of the late 15th century, and separatist sentiments have remained part of the Catalan political fabric ever since. The main Catalan independence group, Terra Lliure (Free Land), generally has lacked the terrorist orientation of its Basque counterpart, ETA.

"While Terra Lliure announced it had been 'officially' disbanded a year ago (in 1991), explosives discovered last month (in June 1992) in Barcelona were linked to its organization. Catalans' resentment of Spain peaked during the 39 years of Franco's government, which ended at his death in 1975. After overcoming Catalonia's resistance during the Spanish Civil War and consolidating his power, Franco immediately carried out political and cultural reprisals against the region.

"The most symbolic was banning the use of Catalan and calling it a dialect, not a language. Franco's death led almost immediately to the restoration of Catalan as the first language taught in the region's schools. It will be one of the official languages of the Olympics, joining English, French and Spanish and marking the second time the Games have had four official languages.

"In track and field, the starter will call the runners to attention with the words, 'Als vestries llocs', which mean, 'On your marks'. Like Catalonia itself, the Catalan language is more closely related to southern France and its language, Provencal, than it is to Spain. Catalonia also has little in common with the touristic cliches of Spain-flamenco dancers, bullfights and siestas. A visitor to Barcelona will find flamenco and bullfights only because the Catalans, businessmen first and foremost, know these are money-making attractions.

"And no Catalan would be caught napping if those hours could be used more profitably. In Catalonia, the native dance is the sardana, which has its origins in sun worship. It is performed without folkloric pretense in villages and cities throughout the region. The popular image of Spain as passionate and welcoming does not hold in Catalonia. Its modern residents inherited suspicion and aloofness from ancestors who retreated to safe havens in the mountains during the Moorish invasions 12 centuries ago (711-788). 

"One day, an American who has lived in Barcelona for more than a year decided to try a little experiment. He would walk down a main street and smile or say hello - or both - to everyone he passed for 30 minutes. The response? Silence and expressionlessness. 'We are the north of the south,' Barcelona mayor Pasqual Maragall said. Barcelona itself is a political hybrid. Its central city residents are mainly rightist.

"The more populous suburbs are mainly leftist, filled with workers from poorer southern Spain. That is how Maragall, a socialist, wins elections as mayor in the capital of a region that elects a conservative, Jordi Pujol, President of the Generalitat, Catalonia's regional government, to head the Catalan government. Spain's Prime Minister is also a socialist. The general relationship between Barcelona and Madrid is not unlike that between Milan and Rome. From the perspective of their second cities, the Spanish and Italian capitals look like dinosaurs bloated by bureaucracy and frivolity. In Catalonia, the disdain for Spain is ever so plain."

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