In 1924 Barcelona missed out on hosting the Games because Baron de Coubertin selected Paris. In 1936 the city was again overlooked because, fearful of Spain's descent into civil war, the decision-makers opted for Berlin. If only gold medals were awarded for bitter ironies...
Barcelona again stepped forward in 1992 and this time made the most of the advantages it held over all the previous hosts — a modern Olympic Games free of boycotts and other major controversies.
There were a few unfamiliar flags fluttering above the various venues, but these were symbols of the new world order, of Baltic states competing independently, of Germany united and of former Yugoslav republics claiming new identities.
These Games also marked the return of South Africa after 32 years of apartheid-driven isolation, a development that was more relevant to the politics than to the competition.
The white South African, Elana Meyer, finished second to the black Ethiopian, Derartu Tulu, in the women's 10,000 metres, but the pair celebrated together, earning a standing ovation as they ran hand in hand on a lap that symbolised victory for unity.
Linford Christie crosses the line to take 100m goldOverall, the athletics competitions were dominated by the United States and the Unified Team — comprising former Soviet republics other than the Baltic nations — but among the significant one-offs were Linford Christie's 100m victory for Great Britain and team-mate Sally Gunnell's gold in the 400m hurdles.
The most decorated athlete at the Games was Belarus gymnast Vitaly Scherbo, winner of five individual gold medals, plus one for the team all-around event, to give him six of the nine awarded to his Unified Team.
Other multiple medallists were Krisztina Egerszegi, winner of three individual swimming gold medals for Hungary, as well as American Nicole Haislett and Yevgeni Sadovyi, of the Unified Team, who both counted individual and team medals among their three golds in the pool.
Matt Biondi made his last appearance at the Games, the American signing off with two golds and a silver for an Olympic career total of 11, including eight golds.
Christilot Hanson-Boylen also made her last appearance in an Olympic dressage career known not for medals — she never won any — but for taking part in six Games over a record-equalling 28 years. Meanwhile, Austrian sailor Hubert Raudaschl equalled a record for appearing in his eighth Olympics - and he still wasn't done.
Of the Baltic States, Lithuania made their mark with a discus gold for Romas Ubartas, while Estonian Erika Salumäe struck gold in the women's sprint cycling.
Michael Jordan led the Dream Team to several crushing victoriesThe impact of the Soviet break-up was particularly strong in the men's basketball competition. The Soviets had claimed a medal in every men's basketball tournament they had entered, but in this new era Lithuania took the bronze, beaten by the United States in the semi-finals.
However, it was hardly a fair fight, as the Americans, leaving nothing to chance after previous upsets, took full advantage of the decision to allow professional players to compete. Their squad list read like a who's who of the NBA and they trounced all comers on the way to the gold medal.
Baseball, making its debut at the Games, ended with a comfortable victory for Cuba, while Asian nations were prevented from a clean sweep of all the badminton medals — another new event — by a solitary bronze for Denmark.
The united Germany finished third in the medals table. Heike Drechsler continued her Olympic career with long jump gold, while tennis stars Boris Becker and Michael Stich took the men's doubles gold, an event that marked the beginning and end of their Games exploits.
Top three performances
1-Vitali Scherbo (BLR) - Won six of the eight men's gymnastics titles, including four in a single day.
2-Linford Christie (GBR) - The 32-year-old became the oldest 100m gold medallist by four years.
3-Mingxia Fu (CHN) - The 13-year-old entranced spectators to become the youngest Olympic diving champion.
Did you know?
Eleven of the 12 members of the US basketball 'Dream Team' have subsequently been inducted to the NBA Hall of Fame - the exception, Christian Laettner, was selected ahead of Shaquille O'Neal. The US won every match by at least 30 points.
On the 20th anniversary of the Munich massacre, Yael Arad became the first Israeli to win an Olympic medal, winning a silver medal in judo.
Briton Derek Redmond's father came on to the track to help the stricken runner finish after pulling his hamstring in a 400m semi-final.