|First event Moscow, USSR in 1986|
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia, USA
|Occur every 4 years|
|Last event Brisbane, Australia in 2001|
Purpose Reaction to the political troubles surrounding the Olympic Games of the 1980s
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The Goodwill Games was an international sports competition created by Ted Turner in reaction to the political troubles surrounding the Olympic Games of the 1980s. In 1979, the 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 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. 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, due to low television ratings.
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The first 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The 1994 Games were held in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the first competition since the Soviet Union had been replaced by fifteen independent republics. 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. Ted Turner's last games were in 1998 in New York City, with memorable highlights including Joyner-Kersee winning her fourth straight heptathlon title, and the U.S. 4 × 400 m relay team setting a world's best time.
The games were bought from Ted Turner by Time Warner in 1996 when Time Warner acquired his company, the Turner Broadcasting System.
Time Warner organized the 2001 Games in Brisbane, Australia, before announcing that this would be the last edition of the games. The 2001 edition witnessed Australia win 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 that "If I'd have stayed there the Goodwill Games would not have been canceled." Turner expressed hope that the games would return, as a bridge to restore cultural contact between Russia and America, stating that the relationship between the two had steadily disintegrated since the Cold War, which he called a dangerous situation due to both countries' massive nuclear arsenals. He also reiterated his belief in the power of international sporting competitions to prevent war, stating 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".