Goodwill Games

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Goodwill Games
Logo of the second Games in Seattle
First eventMoscow, USSR in 1986
Occur every4 years
Last eventBrisbane, Australia in 2001
PurposeReaction to the political troubles surrounding the Olympic Games of the 1980s
HeadquartersAtlanta, Georgia, United States

The Goodwill Games were an international sports competition created by Ted Turner in reaction to the political troubles surrounding the Olympic Games of the 1980s.[1] In 1979, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan caused the United States and other Western countries to boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, an act reciprocated when the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries (with the exception of Romania) boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Like the Olympics, the Goodwill Games were held every four years (with the exception of the final Games), and had a summer and winter component. However, unlike the Olympics, figure skating, ice hockey and short track speed skating were part of summer editions. The Summer Goodwill Games occurred five times, between 1986 and 2001, while the Winter Goodwill Games occurred only once, in 2000. They were cancelled by Time Warner, which had bought ownership of them in 1996, because of low television ratings after the 2001 Games in Brisbane.


The first Goodwill Games, held in Moscow in 1986, featured 182 events and attracted over 3,000 athletes representing 79 countries. World records were set by Sergey Bubka (pole vault), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (heptathlon), and both the men and women's 200 m cycle racing, by East Germany's Michael Hübner and the Soviet Union's Erika Salumäe, respectively. World records also fell at the 1990 Games in Seattle, to Mike Barrowman in the 200 m breaststroke and Nadezhda Ryashkina in the 10 km walk.

The 1994 Games in Saint Petersburg, Russia were the first competition held since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Russians set five world records in the weightlifting section, and the games were the first major international event to feature beach volleyball, which would appear at the Olympics for the first time at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

In October 1996, Turner's company, the Turner Broadcasting System, merged with Time Warner, thus bringing the Goodwill Games under the control of the latter. Ted Turner's last Games were in 1998 in New York City, with memorable highlights including Joyner-Kersee winning her fourth straight heptathlon title, the U.S. 4 × 400 m relay team setting a world's best time, plus Michelle Kwan and Todd Eldredge winning the gold in figure skating, and Dominique Moceanu capturing the women's gymnastics gold medal. Time Warner organized the 2001 Games in Brisbane, Australia, before announcing that this would be the last edition of the games. With the cancellation of the Games, Phoenix, Arizona and Calgary lost their respective Summer and Winter Games, scheduled for 2005. The 2001 edition witnessed Australia winning the most medals with 75, but it received very low television ratings in the United States. Nevertheless, critics praised Turner Network Television for showing the games live, rather than on tape delay.

During a live interview at the 2009 Denver SportAccord conference, Turner blamed the demise of the Games on the short-sighted management of Time Warner, and stated, "If I'd have stayed there the Goodwill Games would not have been canceled."[2][3] Turner expressed hope that the games would return as a bridge to restore cultural contact between Russia and the U.S., stating that the relationship between the two had steadily disintegrated since the Cold War, which he called a dangerous situation because of both countries' massive nuclear arsenals. He also reiterated his belief in the power of international sporting competitions to prevent war, saying that "as long as the Olympics are taking place and not being boycotted, it's virtually impossible to have a world war", because the nations involved "wouldn't want a war to mess up their chances".[2]

Summer Goodwill Games[edit]

Goodwill Games is located in Earth
2005 (cancelled)
2005 (cancelled)
Host cities of the Goodwill Games
Edition Year Host city County/Province/Region/State/Territory Country Notes
I 1986 Moscow  Soviet Union 3,000 athletes and 79 countries
II 1990 Seattle Washington  United States 2,300 athletes and 54 countries
III 1994 Saint Petersburg  Russia 2,000 athletes and 59 countries
IV 1998 New York City New York  United States 1,300 athletes and 60 countries
V* 2001 Brisbane Queensland  Australia 1,300 athletes and 58 countries
VI 2005 Phoenix Arizona  United States Games cancelled
  • The 2001 Goodwill Games were the final edition

Winter Goodwill Games[edit]

Edition Year Host city Country Notes
I 2000 Lake Placid, New York  United States Only Winter Goodwill Games ever held
II 2005 Calgary, Alberta  Canada Games cancelled


Summer sports[edit]

Winter sports[edit]

Participating countries[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jere Longmsn (December 22, 2001). "GOODWILL GAMES; Turner's Games, Losing Money, Are Dropped". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b Ted Turner interview, Dever SportAccord 2009, YouTube
  3. ^ "Olympic Briefs -- Possible Goodwill Games Revival; Pope Meets with Volleyball Organizers".
  4. ^ Men's basketball was not held as a separate event in 1986 because the World Basketball Championship was taking place in Madrid at the same time. The world championship results determined the Goodwill Games winners.
  5. ^ Motoball was held only in 1986; the host country was allowed to include one sport of its choice.
  6. ^ At the 2000 Games, the figure skating event featured professional skaters because of conflicts with Olympic-eligible skaters competing in their national championships. This enabled France's Surya Bonaly to become the only skater in history to win the same event as both an amateur and professional skater as she also won in 1994.

External links[edit]

Media related to Goodwill Games at Wikimedia Commons