1. Atlanta (1996)
Even now it sounds a strange choice for a US host city. Problems with transport and underwhelming stadia earned Atlanta criticism. Throw a terrorist attack on a fan park into the mix – with many blaming lax security arrangements for the bomb -and you’ve got a pretty good candidate for the worst Olympics ever.
2. Athens (2004)
The Athens Games provided a neat forewarning of the financial crisis that would bring Greece close to ruin. A raft of white elephant venues – most of which were nearly empty even during the Olympics – left a massive debt. Some high profile doping controversies, not least involving athletes from the host nation, also cast a shadow over the games.
3. Munich (1972)
Granted, it wasn’t Munich’s fault, but in the history books the Games are inextricably linked to the terrorist attacks that took place in Munich. Any Olympics at which athletes lose their lives is going to be a dark affair, and that has never been more true than the Munich Games, where 11 Israeli athletes were killed.
4. Paris (1900)
Despite the lack of any TV broadcasters to wring out every last drop of sporting action to maximise viewing figures, the 1900 Games lasted from May 14 to October 28. Events included live pigeon shooting (the gold medalist shot 21, 300 were killed in total), fire fighting, kite flying and equestrian long jump. There were also some outrageous instances of cheating, including two French marathon runners who won gold and silver after lurking near the finishing line!
5. Berlin (1936)
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and a lot of the goings-on surrounding the Berlin Olympics don’t look so clever in retrospect. Hosting the games in a country where Jewish and gypsy athletes were banned from sports facilities does not sit well with the Olympics’ ethics of inclusion. History doesn’t look too favourably on all those Nazi salutes either.