EVEN before a powerful bomb planted in central Atlanta's Olympic Centennial Park killed several people, injured at least 200 and blasted the city's disingenuously erected facade of safety into sad little shrapnel on late Friday night, Billy Payne, the chief planner of the Atlanta
Olympic Games, had begun living up to his name.
In the span of a week, the real estate lawyer became a pain for thousands of athletes, spectators and journos who descended on the city in US Deep South for the centennial Games only to be caught in an avalanche of organisational goof-ups: dangerously lax security arrangements despite the largest peacetime mobilisation of personnel, a totally off-gear transport system, mishap-prone officials bumbling their way through designated chores, a rogue results computer...the list could go on.
Payne initially sought to play down the troubles. "Let the Games begin," he kept saying. The Payne mantra was picked up by Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC president. The Games did get under way, but the...