ATLANTA -- On July 27, 1996, tens of thousands of people were at Centennial Olympic Park when a pipe bomb went off.
"I had already gone back to go to bed after a late tour of something," said Billy Payne, the head of Atlanta's Olympics organizing committee. "I think it was 1:30 in the morning. My security guys were in adjoining rooms on either side. My phone rang, maybe, 10 minutes after the bomb, maybe less."
Alice Hawthorne, 44, of Albany, Ga., was killed in the blast. A Turkish cameraman, 40-year-old Melih Uzunyol, had a fatal heart attack while running to the scene. The bomb injured 111 others.
Olympian Dan O'Brien said he had just been the park hours before the blast.
"I was signing autographs, doing appearances, doing things like that. I didn’t see the news until the next day when I woke up and my first reaction was, 'Oh god I hope they don’t postpone anything. Please don’t delay. Please don’t cancel my chance to win an Olympic medal.' ”
Payne said there was strong consideration given to postponing the Games.
"At the end of the day, the decision was essentially, President [Bill] Clinton's," Payne said.
Former Atlanta Mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, the 1996 Olympics co-chair, said all volunteers were ready to get back to work the day after the bombing.
"Everybody was in place by 6 o’clock in the morning," Young said. "And it was never a vote, it was never a discussion it was the united action of the people that, so we’re going on."
O'Brien went on to win a gold medal in the '96 Games.
Years later, Eric Rudolph pleaded guilty to the bombing. He's currently serving four life terms without the possibility of parole for the Olympic bombing and other bombings.
Payne said that the deadly explosion didn't taint the Olympics.
"It tainted and significantly injured the joyous celebration we were having and remains, to this day, the single greatest regret of the games," Payne said. "That that took place. I’m proud of the way we responded."
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PHOTOS: 1996 Olympic bombing in Atlanta
PHOTOS: 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta