Tag Archives: Atlanta’

MLB moving 2021 all-star game out of Atlanta in response to voting restrictions

Atlanta lost Major League Baseball’s summer All-Star Game on Friday over the league’s objections to sweeping changes to Georgia voting laws that critics — including the CEOs of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola — have condemned as being too restrictive.

The decision to pull the July 13 game from Atlanta’s Truist Park amounts to the first economic backlash against Georgia for the voting law that Republican Gov. Brian Kemp quickly signed into law March 25.

Kemp has insisted the law’s critics have mischaracterized what it does, yet GOP lawmakers adopted the changes largely in response to false claims of fraud in the 2020 elections by former President Donald Trump and his supporters. The law includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star events and the amateur draft from Atlanta after discussions with individual players and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year, the commissioner said in a statement. A new ballpark for the events wasn’t immediately revealed.

Manfred said he also spoke with the Major League Baseball Players Association, which at the time of the commissioner’s decision said it had still not taken a stance.

“I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB draft,” Manfred said. “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”


Kemp called it a “knee-jerk decision” that means “cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included. If the left doesn’t agree with you, facts and the truth do not matter.”

“This attack on our state is the direct result of repeated lies from (President) Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams about a bill that expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections,” Kemp said in a statement, referring to the Democratic candidate whom he narrowly defeated in the 2018 election. “I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied.”

Georgia state House Speaker David Ralston, a powerful Republican who backed the voting law changes, said the baseball league’s decision “robs Georgians of a special celebration of our national pastime free of politics.”

Like other Republicans in the state, Ralston vowed to stand behind the new law, which adds strict identification requirements for voting absentee by mail, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to hand out food or water to voters waiting in line, among many other provisions.

Georgia Republicans say changes were needed to maintain voter confidence in the election system. Democrats and voting rights groups say the law will disproportionately affect communities of colour. On Wednesday, two of Georgia’s most prominent business leaders sided with the law’s opponents.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian labeled the law “unacceptable,” while Coca-Cola chief executive James Quincey called the legislation a “step backward.”

Atlanta team ‘disappointed by decision’ 

The Atlanta baseball team issued a statement Friday saying the team is disappointed by Manfred’s decision.

“We are saddened that fans will not be able to see this event in our city,” the team said. “The [Atlanta baseball] organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion.”


Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who is to guide the National League All-Star team, applauded MLB for moving the game from Georgia.

“I think in a world now where people want and need to be heard — and in this particular case, people of colour — for Major League Baseball to listen and do something about it, to be proactive, it sets a tone,” said Roberts, the son of a Black father and Japanese mother.

Abrams, who has championed voting rights since her loss to Kemp, blasted the new voting law. The Democrat is being closely watched to see if she seeks a rematch against Kemp in 2022.

“Georgia Republicans must renounce the terrible damage they have caused to our voting system and the harm they have inflicted on our economy,” Abrams said.

Heated political divide

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, said she supports MLB’s decision. Atlanta will no doubt share in the economic loss, though the Braves’ home stadium is now located outside the city, in suburban Cobb County.

“Unfortunately, the removal of the MLB All-Star Game from Georgia is likely the first of many dominoes to fall until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed,” Bottoms said in a statement.

Some Democrats from the Georgia county where the game was to be held said they oppose MLB’s move. Lisa Cupid, the Black chairwoman of the Cobb County Commission, said she urged the league to stay rather than harm hotels and other businesses still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

State Rep. Teri Anulewicz, a Democrat whose district includes the stadium, added: “I don’t know who Major League Baseball feels they are punishing. The governor, from his statement, has made clear he doesn’t feel he is being punished.”

MLB still plans on saluting Hank Aaron

The relocation of high-profile sports events from cities in response to social issues has a long history in the U.S.

The NFL originally awarded the 1993 Super Bowl to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, but decided in March 1991 to move it to Pasadena, California, after the state failed to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day an official holiday. Arizona became the last state to adopt an MLK Holiday when voters approved it in November 1992.

The NBA first scheduled its 2017 All-Star Game at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, then shifted it in July 2016 because of its objections to a North Carolina law that limited anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. The law was partially repealed in 2017, and the 2019 All-Star Game was held in Charlotte.

NCAA officials decided in 2001 to ban awarding championship sites in advance to states that displayed the Confederate flag but did not alter events whose sites were determined by seeding or ranking. That was expanded last June to prevent any NCAA championship event from being played where the flag had a prominent presence. Mississippi’s governor signed a law less than two weeks later to retire the flag.

WATCH | Hank Aaron, home run king who fought racism, dies at 86:

Sports legend Hank Aaron has died at age 86. The baseball hall-of-famer, who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, is being remembered for his skill and his perseverance in the face of hate. 2:10

Manfred said despite the change of venue, MLB still plans to use the All-Star Game this year to honour Hank Aaron, the Atlanta’s Hall of Famer and former career home run champion who died on Jan. 22 at age 86.

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, a former teammate of Aaron’s, applauded the move and said the late outfielder “always had the rights of the people in the forefront of his mind and in his heart.”

“This is what Hank would have liked, even if it was his town,” Baker told reporters.

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‘We are not the virus’: Hundreds rally against anti-Asian racism in Atlanta

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Saturday in support of the Asian American community after a shooting at three local day spas this week left eight people dead, six of them Asian women.

The killings followed a year of mounting anti-Asian violence in the United States, which community leaders say is due to Asian Americans being blamed for the coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China, in late 2019.

Crowds of people wearing masks, waving American flags and carrying posters that read “We are not the virus” and “Stop Asian Hate” stood in front of the golden-domed Georgia State Capitol building on Saturday.

“I want to make sure the world and the people know that I am here and I am visible,” said rally-goer Sunghee Han from Georgia.

“The women who perished, … I see my family in them,” Timothy Phan from Port St. Lucie, Fla., who drove eight hours to attend, told CNN. “I feel like far too often, we’re just erased.”


A demonstrators in Atlanta holds a sign on Saturday displaying the names of Tuesday’s shooting victims. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, both Georgia Democrats elected in January, led the demonstrators in a moment of silence for the victims, video on Twitter showed.

“Let us build a state and a nation where no one lives in fear because of who they are or where they or their family come from,” Ossoff said.

Georgia authorities have yet to determine what drove the suspect, a 21-year-old white man, who was charged with the killings at spas in and around Atlanta on Tuesday. Robert Aaron Long told investigators sex addiction led him to violence, but lawmakers and anti-racism advocates have said anti-Asian bias could have been at least part of the motivation.

“I’m not interested in whether or not he had a bad day,” said Warnock, criticizing a comment by an Atlanta-area sheriff’s department spokesman about Long’s state of mind.

“No matter how you want to spin it, the facts remain the same,” Georgia State Rep. Bee Nguyen told the crowd. “This was an attack on the Asian community.”


Demonstrators rally outside the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Saturday. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Some of the women killed were immigrants and mothers, described by family and friends as hard-working, loving and beloved.

Hyun Jung Grant was among those killed at Gold Spa in Atlanta. Her son, Randy Park, set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for himself and his brother, who are alone now in the United States while the rest of their family is in South Korea.

“She was a single mother who dedicated her whole life to providing for my brother and I,” Park wrote.

The shootings prompted an outpouring of grief, from the local community in Georgia to the halls of U.S. Congress. Since Tuesday, mourners have piled flower bouquets and signs, lit candles and said prayers outside the spas where the victims were killed.

U.S. lawmakers decried the spike in anti-Asian violence in a congressional hearing on Thursday, where Democratic Rep. Grace Meng, who is of Taiwanese descent, testified that the “community is bleeding.”

On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris met with Asian American community leaders in Georgia to express condolences and implore Americans to stand together against hate.

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The violence in Atlanta and the 8 lives lost

The shooting rampage that unfolded at three Atlanta-area massage parlours on Tuesday left eight families mourning their loved ones and fanned fears in the Asian American community of racist violence.

Police are still investigating, and questions remain about the killer’s motive as details gradually become available. Here’s what we know about the victims who have been publicly identified so far.  

A mother of two

Delaina Ashley Yaun, a 33-year-old mother of two, had gone to have a massage at Youngs Asian Massange Parlor along with her husband.

Yaun’s relatives told local news outlets that she and her husband were first-time customers on a date when the shooting began.

Her half-sister, Dana Toole, said Yaun’s husband locked himself in a room and wasn’t injured.

“He’s taking it hard,” Toole said. “He was there. He heard the gunshots and everything. You can’t escape that when you’re in a room and gunshots are flying — what do you do?”

An army veteran

Paul Michels, 54, also died in the violence at Youngs. USA Today has reported he was originally from Detroit, but had been living in Atlanta for more than 20 years.


The American flag atop the White House in Washington was lowered to half-mast in honour of those killed in the attacks. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

His brother John Michels told the newspaper that he and Paul had each served in the U.S. army.

He said it appeared his brother was “just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

A business owner

Xiaojie Tan owned the business. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper reported she was killed two days before her 50th birthday.

Police have identified a fourth victim from the Youngs shootings as 44-year-old Daoyou Feng. Further details about Feng were not immediately available.

Police said Thursday they were still trying to reach next of kin for other victims.

“We want to make sure that we do that privately, before we release the names of our victims publicly,” Atlanta Deputy Chief Charles Hampton Jr., said at a news conference on Thursday.


Atlanta Deputy Chief Charles Hampton Jr., speaks at a news conference on Thursday. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

In response to a question about whether police were looking at the killings as possible hate crimes, Hampton said that “nothing is off the table.” 

“We had four Asian females that were killed, and so we are looking at everything to make sure that we discover and determine what the motive of our homicides was,” he said, referring to the victims that have still not been publicly identified.

The accused, Robert Aaron Long, 21, has been charged with murder in the killings. 

WATCH | Asian American community calls attacks a hate crime:

Christopher Chan of the Asian American Fund’s Georgia Chapter says some members of the Asian American community say the Atlanta-area attacks were ‘racially motivated,’ and the suspect should be prosecuted under the state’s hate crime law. 0:39

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Piatti’s late winner lifts league leading Toronto FC over Atlanta United

Pablo Piatti scored in the 89th minute to lift Toronto FC to a 1-0 win over Atlanta United on Sunday night, extending its undefeated MLS run to nine games.

Substitute Richie Laryea made the play, teasing a defender before sending in a cross to Piatti, who flicked a header past Brad Guzan and in off the post for his fourth goal of the season.

It marked Toronto’s seventh 1-0 win of the season and 10th victory overall by a one-goal margin.

Scoring chances had been few and far between at Pratt and Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. Despite coming into the game 19 points below Toronto in the standings, Atlanta proved to be a tough nut to crack.

After a quiet first half, Atlanta (5-10-4) showed more teeth in attack when it brought on designated players Ezequiel Barco and Marcelino Moreno at halftime. Atlanta’s lone shot on target came in the 68th minute with goalkeeper Quentin Westberg forced to make a smart save off a downward header from substitute Erick Torres.

Atlanta, which ranks 23rd in the league in goal-scoring, is winless in four games (0-1-3) during which it has scored just once.

Toronto (12-2-5) is 6-0-3 in its last nine outings. It has lost just two of 29 regular-season games (15-2-12) since a 2-0 defeat at the New York Red Bulls on Aug. 3, 2019.

TFC had won five straight matches prior to a 1-1 midweek tie with the New York Red Bulls.

WATCH | Piatti’s 89th winner continues TFC’s undefeated MLS run:

Pablo Piatti’s goal in the 89th minute lifts Toronto FC to 1-0 victory over Atlanta. 1:15

Atlanta was coming off a 1-1 midweek tie with Inter Miami and had won just one of its previous five games (1-2-2). The Five Stripes came into the game in 11th place in the East, one place below the playoff line.

Toronto captain Michael Bradley, who missed the last nine games with a knee injury, came on in the 20th minute to replace Jonathan Osorio, who was feeling tightness. It marked only Bradley’s second substitute appearance in 201 career MLS regular-season matches.

The game was the fifth in 16 days for both teams.

Toronto coach Greg Vanney made four changes to the midweek starting 11 that tied the Red Bulls 1-1 with Tony Gallacher, Laurent Ciman, Tsubasa Endoh and Patrick Mullins coming in for Richie Laryea, Chris Mavinga, Nick DeLeon and Ayo Akinola.

Akinola and Mavinga were nursing slight hamstring issues.

Barco had missed the last seven games through injury. Moreno, an Argentine midfielder signed on Sept. 22, played 61 minutes in his Oct. 10 debut — a 1-0 loss to the Red Bulls — but did not figure against Miami.

There were dangers signs early, with an Atlanta giveaway leading to an Alejandro Pozuelo shot that was on target but lacked pace in the third minute. The Spaniard had another chance five minutes later but his shot went straight at Guzan.

At the other end, Mexican winger Jurgen Damm tested the left side of the Toronto defence.

Omar Gonzalez’s header off a Toronto corner in the 40th minute when straight at Guzan. Seconds later, Bradley found Piatti whose hard shot was parried away by Guzan.

Pozuelo’s swerving shot was off target in the 52nd minute.

The last meeting between the two teams was in the Eastern Conference final in October 2019 when Toronto prevailed 2-1 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium thanks to a 78th-minute winner by DeLeon.

Guzan was the only returnee from that playoff game in Atlanta’s starting 11 Sunday, Toronto had seven of its starters from that game in its opening lineup.

Toronto was slated to charter home after the game to spend two days with family, under quarantine, before returning to East Hartford to prepare for a game next Saturday in Philadelphia. TFC has four regular-season games remaining.

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‘Exceptional’ civil rights icon John Lewis remembered at Atlanta funeral

John Lewis was celebrated as an American hero during his funeral Thursday as former President Barack Obama and others called on people to follow Lewis’ example and fight injustice.

Three former U.S. presidents joined in the eulogies after nearly a week of mourning that took Lewis from his birthplace in Alabama to the nation’s capital of Washington to his final resting place in his home of Atlanta.

“I’ve come here today because I, like so many Americans, owe a great debt to John Lewis and his forceful vision of freedom,” former president Barack Obama said.

Lewis died July 17 at age 80.

The arc of Lewis’s legacy of activism will once again be tied to Ebenezer’s former pastor Martin Luther King Jr., whose sermons Lewis discovered while scanning the radio dial as a 15-year-old boy growing up in then-segregated Alabama.

King continued to inspire Lewis’s civil rights work for the next 65 years as he fought segregation during sometimes bloody marches, Greyhound bus “Freedom Rides” across the South and later during his long tenure in the United States Congress.

WATCH | Scenes from the Lewis funeral:

Jennifer Holliday touches mourners with ‘Only What You Do for Christ Will Last’ as former U.S. congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis is laid to rest. 0:50

“The life of John Lewis was in so many ways, exceptional,” said Obama. “He vindicated the faith in our founding and redeemed that faith.”

“America was built by John Lewises,” he said.

Obama then drew a thread from Lewis’s activism over the right of Blacks to vote to what he characterized as current efforts to suppress the vote.

“There are those in power that are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting, closing polling places, attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the postal service in an election that’s going to depend on mail-in ballots,” the 44th president said to thunderous applause.


Former President Barack Obama delivers a eulogy for John Lewis during the services at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton spoke before Obama.

“He always believed in preaching the gospel in word and in deed, insisting that hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope,” said Bush.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms were among those in attendance.

Pelosi, her voice breaking at times, recalled a poignant moment when Lewis’s body was lying in state at the U.S. Capitol earlier this week.

“There was this double rainbow over the casket,” she said. “He was telling us, ‘I’m home in heaven, I’m home in heaven.’ We always knew he worked on the side of angels, and now he is with them.”

One of King’s daughters, the Rev. Bernice King, led the congregation in prayer: “We will continue to get into good trouble as long as you grant us the breath to do so,” she said.

Outside Ebenezer, hundreds gathered to watch the service on a large screen outside the church. Some sang the gospel song We Shall Overcome.


Mourners stand outside Ebenezer Baptist Church during the funeral for Rep. John Lewis on Thursday in Atlanta. (Brynn Anderson/The Associated PRess)

“Here lies a true American patriot who risked his life for the hope and promise of democracy,” Ebenezer’s senior pastor, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, told the congregation as the funeral began.

When Lewis was 15, he heard King’s sermons on WRMA, a radio station in Montgomery, Ala., he recalled in an interview for the Southern Oral History Program.

“Later I saw him on many occasions in Nashville while I was in school between 1958 and ’61,” Lewis said. “In a sense, he was my leader.”

King was “the person who, more than any other, continued to influence my life, who made me who I was,” Lewis wrote in his 1998 autobiography, Walking with the Wind.

By the summer of 1963, Lewis was addressing thousands of people during the March on Washington, speaking shortly before King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. He spoke then about Black people beaten by police and jailed — themes that resonate vividly in today’s times.

“My friends, let us not forget that we are involved in a serious social revolution,” Lewis told the huge crowd on the Washington Mall.

“To those who have said, ‘Be patient and wait,’ we have long said that we cannot be patient,” he said. “We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now! We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again.”

In 1965, Lewis was beaten by Alabama state troopers in the city of Selma in what became known as Bloody Sunday.

Lewis op-ed published today in New York Times

Last Sunday, his casket was carried across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The wagon rolled over a carpet of rose petals on the bridge that spans the Alabama River.

On the south side of the bridge, where Lewis was attacked by the officers, family members placed red roses that the carriage rolled over, marking the spot where Lewis spilled his blood and suffered a head injury.


Martin Luther King III is seen Wednesday at the state capitol in Atlanta, where Lewis lay in repose. (Brynn Anderson/The Associated Press)

Lewis was later awarded the Medal of Freedom by the nation’s first Black president in 2011.

He spent more than three decades in Congress, and his district included most of Atlanta.

Lewis was a member of Ebenezer, and “it was my honour to serve as pastor to John Lewis, a man of faith and a true American patriot who selflessly risked life and limb in the sacred cause of truth-telling and justice-making in the world,” Warnock said in a statement before the funeral.

“He was wounded for America’s transgressions, crushed for our iniquities and by his bruises we are healed,” Warnock went on. “Today we weep. Tomorrow we continue the work of healing that was his life’s work.”

WATCH | The life and legacy of John Lewis:

U.S. Rep. John Lewis was the last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists who organized the 1963 March on Washington. 7:17

Shortly before he died, Lewis wrote an essay for The New York Times and asked that it be published on the day of his funeral. In the piece published Thursday, Lewis recalled the teachings of King:

“He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice,” Lewis wrote. “He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out.”

“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe,” he wrote.

“In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.”

“He was here on a mission bigger than personal ambition,” Clinton told the congregants, referencing the Times essay in his remarks: “It is so fitting on the day of his service, he leaves us his marching orders: Keep moving.”

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Atlanta United, Inter Miami players test positive for COVID-19

Two Atlanta United players and one player on expansion club Inter Miami CF have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Per the Atlanta United, their two unidentified players are asymptomatic and are in isolation.

In a statement Saturday, Atlanta United said the club will continue non-contact training on Monday. If negative test results for all players and staff are received on that day, the club will resume full team training on Tuesday.

“Since Atlanta United began individual player workouts on May 6, the club has followed MLS health and safety guidelines, including proper physical distancing and sanitization during individual workouts, small group training sessions and full group training sessions,” the team said in a statement. “The club will continue to work in close consultation with the CDC, local health authorities and Major League Soccer regarding testing and training guidelines.”

Inter Miami announced in a statement late Thursday that an unidentified player tested positive for the coronavirus “following a round of mandatory club testing this week.”

Per the team, the player was also asymptomatic and is being treated by a combination of club medical staff and local infectious disease experts.

Inter Miami CF is slated to kick off the MLS is Back Tournament on July 8 against Orlando City SC.

WATCH | COVID-19 could derail pro leagues’ plans to return:

As professional sports leagues plot their return to action, CBC News’ Cameron MacIntosh details the recent spike in the number of athletes who have contracted COVID-19. 2:43

Orlando City was designated as the home team for the opener of the tournament, which will take place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla. The event will be closed to spectators.

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Bubba Wallace appears to faint after emotional race at Atlanta Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace appeared to faint after getting out of his car following the conclusion of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, then appeared to begin to faint again during a live televised interview.

The events concluded a long, humid and emotional day in Atlanta, which began with Wallace wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt before the race and saw all 40 cars stop during the warm-up laps as NASCAR president Steve Phelps delivered a message over their headsets pledging to address racial injustice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

Wallace is the only black driver currently in the Cup Series, and also took part in a video in which numerous NASCAR drivers calling for social justice. Fox played the video before Sunday’s race, as well.

During the speech, pit crew members stood on the wall in front of their pit boxes and a black NASCAR official could be seen kneeling on one knee — a gesture seen throughout the world by people protesting over Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police last month and one used by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the playing of the national anthem in 2016 to protest police mistreatment of black people.

WATCH | NASCAR holds a moment of silence:

NASCAR’s only African American Cup Series driver, Bubba Wallace, and several crew members wore ‘I Can’t Breathe – Black Lives Matter’ t-shirts prior to the start of the race. 0:51

After the Fox TV crew interviewed race winner Kevin Harvick, the broadcast showed video of Wallace appearing to get lightheaded while talking to members of his crew following the race before collapsing in their arms. Fox then interviewed Wallace on live air as the driver sat on the wall along pit road.

“I don’t even know. Long race I guess,” Wallace said when asked by pit road interviewer Jamie Little what happened after the race. “I stood up too fast. Well I guess I was told I was going to do media, and sat down and got up too fast, and I got dizzy, got lightheaded.

“I feel fine now. Quick scare for everybody.”

WATCH | Wallace appears to faint during tv interview:

NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace appeared to faint following the conclusion of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 0:45

He then began explaining how his race went — he finished 21st and one lap down — but then appeared to again get lightheaded, bowing his head down and closing his eyes.

As a member of his crew grabbed him, a voice could be heard saying, “where’s medical?”

“He is not OK,” Little said before cameras cut away.

Fox later showed Wallace sitting on the wall, alert and surrounded by crew members, with Fox NASCAR announcer Mike Joy saying, “Bubba Wallace is OK, being tended to by medical personnel.”


Wallace, 26, is in his fourth season on the Cup circuit, and his third driving full time for Richard Petty Motorsports. He has yet to win in 86 career Cup starts but has two top fives and six top 10s. He finished in 10th place last weekend at Bristol, his second top 10 of the season.

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Ashley ‘Minnie’ Ross, ‘Little Women: Atlanta’ Star, Dead at 34

Ashley ‘Minnie’ Ross, ‘Little Women: Atlanta’ Star, Dead at 34 | Entertainment Tonight

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Atlanta bombing movie brings back memories of terror for Canadian Olympians who were there

Donovan Bailey awoke on the morning of July 27, 1996 with two items on his personal to-do list.

The first was to set a world record in the men’s 100-metre Olympic final. The second was to claim Olympic gold as the world’s fastest man.

“My coach, Dan Pfaff, felt I was going to break the world record,” says a reflective Bailey, now 52. “So the time really was not going to matter to me. I knew I was going to run faster than I had ever run before.”

Initially, Bailey thought Pfaff was playing a mind game when he told him a bomb had exploded at 1:25 a.m. in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, the free concert zone with no metal detectors, no scanners and no controlled access 

Without another word, Pfaff left the room.

“That’s just the relationship between Dan and myself,” Bailey says. “Dan is always trying to test me.”

WATCH |  News coverage of Atlanta 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing:

CBC News’ Eric Sorensen reports on the infamous Centennial Olympic Park bombing on July 27, 1996 from Atlanta. 5:16

So Bailey sat down to eat his omelette, fresh fruit and toast, while sipping his English breakfast tea with milk and honey. The house manager flipped the television on and the mind game became real.

“I didn’t know how many people had died,” Bailey says of the carnage he saw on the screen. “I didn’t know if they were going to cancel the Olympic Games. I didn’t know what was happening.”

That same morning, Marnie McBean woke up and saw a yellow Post-it note slipped under her door by her coach, Al Morrow.


Jewell was hounded by media after an erroneous report linked him to the bombing. Jewell died in 2007. (The Associated Press)

The note read: Last night, a bomb went off at Centennial Olympic Park. People were injured and/or killed. Expect security delays and/or cancellations. You might want to get an earlier bus.

“Personally, I had 30 family members come down to Atlanta,” McBean says. “And my family, they’re all precarious adventurers. People barely had cell phones, so I couldn’t call them up and make sure everyone was okay.

“So we got on an earlier bus. We didn’t know what was going on, and we’re on the bus that’s supposed to go to our Olympic final.”

Bailey and McBean are among scores of Canadians who remember the terror depicted in the new Clint Eastwood movie, Richard Jewell. The film is based on the true story of Jewell, the Atlanta security guard wrongly suspected in the Centennial Park bombing.

Jewell likely saved many lives that night when he discovered an unattended backpack containing three pipe bombs during a rock concert attended by about 50,000 people. He helped clear the immediate area before a bomb exploded, killing a woman and injuring 111. (A Turkish television camera operator also died when he suffered a fatal heart attack as he rushed to the scene.)

I didn’t know if they were going to cancel the Olympic Games. I didn’t know what was happening.– Donovan Bailey, 1996 100-metre champion

Initially hailed as a hero, Jewell’s life fell apart on July 30 when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran the headline: ‘FBI suspects hero guard may have planted bomb’.

Though police never charged him, many people still thought Jewell — who died in 2007 from complications of diabetes — was responsible for the bombing. It wasn’t until 1998 that authorities charged Eric Rudolph, who pleaded guilty to the bombings in 2005 and is serving a life sentence.

“I think most of us still had the feeling in Atlanta that Olympic security would keep everybody safe and sound and that nothing like this could happen,” says Mark Lee, a broadcaster who worked the 1996 Games for CBC. “It was pre-9/11. You still thought with all the security, you would be safe.”

After a long day of calling volleyball, Lee and commentator Charlie Parkinson arrived back at the International Broadcast Centre. In a scene familiar to every Olympics, they stood outside waiting for a bus that never came.

They managed to arrange a ride, and at around 1 a.m., less than half an hour before the bomb would explode, the pair found themselves about 100 metres from the sound tower at Centennial Olympic Park waiting to be picked up.

At 3:30 a.m., Lee’s phone rang.

“Are you okay?” a CBC manager asked.

“Yeah, I’m asleep,” Lee replied. “What’s going on?”

The manager told Lee he was listed as last being seen leaving the broadcast centre around the time of the explosion.

We started chasing people down. We were trying to find everybody.– Dave Bedford, Canadian Olympic Committee media attache at 1996 Olympics

It was also where Canadian Olympic Committee media attaché Dave Bedford had trudged through Centennial Olympic Park at around the same time before heading back to his sleeping quarters at Clark Atlanta University.

The ringing phone interrupted his slumber with an order to report to the Main Press Centre as soon as possible.

Half asleep, Bedford rushed back but shortly after arriving, the facility received a bomb threat and went into lock-down.

“That kind of scares the hell out of you,” he says. “You’re in there by yourself and none of the other COC staffers can get in or out. It’s a little disconcerting.”

The phone in the COC office rang constantly, with panicked parents calling to check on their loved ones.

“We started chasing people down,” he says. “We were trying to find everybody.”

Olympic security protocols are much more sophisticated these days, but back in Atlanta, Bedford and his colleagues connected with the manager assigned to each team. The manager then physically went out and found each team member.

No injuries to Canadian team members

“Once we determined everyone was accounted for then the messaging was really simple,” he says. “It was just, ‘hey, you, everyone’s accounted for and there are no injuries with Canadian team members.’

“Parents and family members were very happy to hear that.”

Lee woke up around 7:30 a.m. — he had willed himself back to sleep for fear of not being at his best on air — and immediately called his wife.

“I needed to let her know I was okay,” he says. “The Olympics are such a huge undertaking. When you have your loved ones away from an Olympics and they hear something has happened — like a bombing or shooting — everyone thinks you’re right in the middle of it even though it was nowhere near you.”

Except in this case, Lee was way too close for comfort.


Marnie McBean, right, and Kathleen Heddle won gold in the double sculls on the morning after the bombing. (Bongarts/Getty Images)

That morning, all was quiet when the bus pulled up to the Olympic rowing venue at Lake Lanier. At the entrance, the driver killed the engine and crews conducted their routine bomb sweep before granting the vehicle entrance.

McBean looked over and saw actual spectators in the grandstand — which she saw as a good sign. After all, they wouldn’t let people in if the event was cancelled.

Once inside, McBean huddled with her coach and found out the band Jack Mack and the Heart Attack was performing the night before at Centennial Park.

“[The band] was nobody my family had ever heard of,” McBean says. “So I was like, ‘Odds are super high that my family never went.’ It was just a guess that my family was fine and then we went on with the race day.”

In Lane 4 for the women’s double sculls final, McBean and her partner, Kathleen Heddle, sat in their boat with gold in their sights. Heavy favourites, the Canadians lived up to the hype.

‘Huge chunk of perspective’

Holding off the Chinese and Dutch at the finish, McBean leaned over and kissed her oars in sweet celebration of Canada’s first gold of the Atlanta Games.

Around 2 p.m., McBean and Heddle walked into the lounge in the athlete’s village and saw Olympians from around the world glued to the TV in hopes of learning more about the bombing.

“Kathleen and I were staring at real life,” McBean says. “We had just done this sporting thing, but there was this huge chunk of perspective that came into that moment.”

Already guarded by the RCMP at a safe house in the upscale district of Buckhead, Donovan Bailey received word mid-morning that his 100-metre race was on. From that moment, he intentionally banished any thought of the bombing.

“The 100 metres is the biggest event of every Olympic games since 1896,” he says. “So, for me, coming in being the reigning world champion, and obviously, being a favourite to win, my responsibility was to stay focused and compartmentalize as best as I could the events of that day so that I could really get the job done.”

WATCH |  Donovan Bailey reacts to news of Atlanta bombing

Donovan Bailey discusses his reaction to the infamous Centennial Olympic Park bombing, in an interview with CBC Sports’ 1996 Atlanta Olympic host Brian Williams. Bailey won 100 metre Olympic gold on the same day the bombing took place, on July 27, 1996. 1:01

Competing in spite of a torn left adductor, Bailey concentrated on his game plan.

“I felt that the semifinals and obviously the finals would kind of undo the negativity and the clouds around the Olympics,” he said. “And I’m no stranger to that because I did compete for Canada.”

On Bailey’s ample shoulders rested the hopes of Canadians still scarred by memories of 1988 when Ben Johnson was stripped of his Olympic gold after testing positive for steroids at the Games in Seoul, South Korea.

That night, Bailey rode to the stadium in a motorcade with police vehicles both in front and behind him.

“I was the king of the world.” he says with a chuckle.

In the final, the king was the second last man to burst out of the blocks.

“I realized I had a terrible start,” he says. “What I had to do was step back, breathe a little bit and get into my drive phase knowing that when I hit top speed, I would pass everybody.”

And pass everybody he did. Knowing he would win at 70 metres, Bailey glided over the finish line and saw a sea of Canadian flags to his right.

He looked at the clock: 9.84 seconds — a new Olympic and world record.


Canada’s Donovan Bailey won the gold medal and set a world record in the 100 metres hours after the Olympic bombing in 1996. (Getty Images)

“I opened my mouth,” he says. “It was a reactionary thing. I got it done. Let me take my flag and take my place in history.”

Standing to the right of that historical moment was an exhausted Dave Bedford, still working after the terrifying experience at the Main Press Centre.

“Donovan ran right by me with both his arms down going at his side and his mouth gaping open,” says Bedford, now the chief executive officer of Athletics Canada. “It was wild for sure. Highs and lows to the extremes.”

All these years later, Bailey hopes people will look back at the highs of Atlanta even when reliving the lows while watching Richard Jewell at the local movie theatre.

“The Olympic Games should never be about politics — about somebody with some sort of agenda,” Bailey says. “The Olympic Games are all about sports and celebrating the greatest athletes on the planet.”

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