A Midsummer's Dream

From health care and lodging to volunteers and cultural events, the University will play a vital role in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games

By Allison O. Adams

Profiles of Emory people involved in the Olympics:

To read about Olympic hopeful Cyrus Beasley '95C, click here.

Twelve years ago this June, forty-four Olympic athletes came to Emory from Pakistan, Panama, and six African nations. For a month, the track and field competitors lived in the Turman North residence hall and trained in the George W. Woodruff Physical Education Center before the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. This summer, during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, Emory will host an Olympic contingent of considerably different proportions. Some two thousand international media representatives, Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) staff members, and officials for sports such as fencing, archery, wrestling, and table tennis will take up residence on campus for several weeks. At Oxford, some five hundred and fifty ACOG staff and officials associated with equestrian events and seventy AT&T technicians and engineers servicing Olympic venues will be housed in residence halls.

Although Emory will not serve as an athletic venue during the Olympic Games, athletes still will be coming to the University. The Woodruff P.E. Center and the new Chappell Park baseball stadium will serve as practice sites for several as-yet-undetermined Olympic teams. Emory's role in the Games will also extend to other arenas--health care, volunteer staffing, and cultural events.

The busiest University location will be Crawford Long Hospital of Emory University, one of three main health care facilities within the Olympic "ring," the imaginary circle that will encompass most activity during the Games. Crawford Long will provide medical services to participating athletes, and the hospital is responsible for medical care at four venues: the Olympic Village, the Georgia Institute of Technology's Alexander Memorial Coliseum (the boxing venue), the downtown international media center, and the Emory residential sites. Hospital spokesperson Debra Bloom attributes Crawford Long's designation to the strength of the hospital's orthopaedic, cardiac, and emergency services, as well as convenience. "We are less than a half-mile from the Olympic Village," she explains.

Preparations for the influx of international visitors to Emory and Crawford Long have been underway for several years. The hospital is bolstering its translation resources as well as broadening its international billing systems to account for currency exchange. At Emory, staff and supervisors from several departments will undergo intercultural training. "We hope to give them basic tools for communicating even though the languages and cultures may be different," says Robert Ethridge, associate vice president and director of equal opportunity programs. "We'll talk about gestures, tone of voice, and how language is used. An awareness and sensitivity is what we want to convey."

Many Emory administrators, faculty, and staff are also Olympic volunteers. Charles Hatcher, the University's vice president for health affairs, serves as honorary co-chair of the Olympic Medical Support Group, a committee that also includes Crawford Long's medical director, Harold Ramos. Crawford Long nursing director Barbara Sverdlik is working as a loaned executive to ACOG to oversee the hospital's preparations. Nurses and physicians from Emory University Hospital and Crawford Long have volunteered for Olympic medical support teams for a variety of sports, such as shooting, baseball, and badminton. Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics Robert Frederick is the doctor for the U.S. men's and women's team handball squads, which are based in Atlanta. And Patricia Mattson, head of outpatient physical therapy for the Department of Orthopaedics at the Emory Sports Medicine and Spine Center, is an official trainer for the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). Mattson, who has traveled extensively as a USOC trainer, holds two world records in master's swimming events.

In the non-medical fields, Emory cross-country and track coach John Curtin is on sabbatical working for ACOG as assistant to the sport chair of athletics (track and field). He will help organize practices and competitions, as well as coordinate venue staffing and transportation for athletes. Other faculty and staff are serving in a variety of capacities, including volunteer envoys and translators.

Emory is also joining forces with ACOG's Cultural Olympiad, a program designed to link international artistic and cultural traditions to those of the American South. The Michael C. Carlos Museum is collaborating with the Cultural Olympiad to mount two major exhibitions of work by contemporary African-American artists. "Souls Grown Deep: African-American Vernacular Art of the South" includes some two hundred and fifty paintings, sculptures, and photographs by more than forty artists, among them, Mose Tolliver and Ronald Lockett, two of the region's most celebrated self-taught painters. "Often monumental in scale, this new vernacular art recollects the struggles of African Americans in the past and calls for vital changes in the ecologically threatened future," exhibition curator Robert Hobbs says of these artists' work. Co-sponsored by the City of Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs, the show will be installed at Atlanta's City Hall East from June 29 through October 15. An illustrated catalog for the exhibition will include essays by Emory scholars Theophus Smith, associate professor of religion; Rudolph Byrd, director of the program for African-American Studies; and Ivan Karp, director of the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts.

The second exhibition, "Thornton Dial: Remembering the Road," consists of thirty-six relief paintings, works on paper, and sculptures that the Bessemer, Alabama, artist has created in the past decade. Dial's work, acclaimed for its resistance to categorization as "high" art or "folk" art, often centers on his perceptions of the paths taken by African Americans in the twentieth century. Slated for installation at the Carlos Museum, the works will be shown from June 29 through October 15.

The Cultural Olympiad and Theater Emory are collaborating to bring to Atlanta the Saratoga International Theater Institute, founded by American stage director Anne Bogart and one of Japan's leading directors, Tadashi Suzuki. The company will come to Emory in June and July to conduct a three-week training institute for theater students and professionals. The world premiere of the company's newest work, "Short Stories," will be presented at the Alliance Studio Theatre July 11 through 13.

The University is sponsoring several other projects to honor the Olympic Games. The Women's Center is collaborating with the Georgia and national chapters of the National Organization for Women to host a July 27 reception on campus for lawmakers who worked on Title IX legislation, which guarantees equity for women in sports. The Women's Center is also working with the Schatten Gallery in the Robert W. Woodruff Library to mount two exhibits: "Women of Courage" is a collection of photographs of African-American women who were involved in civil rights efforts during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and "Sporting Women: Insights From Her Past" will feature the work of artist and historian Sally Fox.

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