The 2004 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, was a premier international multi-sport event held in Athens, Greece from August 13 to August 29, 2004 with the motto Welcome Home. 10,625 athletes competed, some 600 more than expected, accompanied by 5,501 team officials from 201 countries. There were 301 medal events in 28 different sports. Athens 2004 marked the first time since the 1996 Summer Olympics that all countries with a National Olympic Committee were in attendance. It was also the first time since 1896 that the Olympics returned to Athens.
See main article: 2004 Summer Olympics bids.
Athens was chosen as the host city during the 106th IOC Session held in Lausanne on September 5, 1997. Athens had lost its bid to organize the 1996 Summer Olympics to Atlanta nearly seven years before, on September 18, 1990, during the 96th IOC Session in Tokyo. Under the direction of Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, Athens pursued another bid, this time for the right to host the Summer Olympics in 2004. The success of Athens in securing the 2004 Games was based largely on Athens' appeal to Olympic history and the emphasis that it placed on the pivotal role that Greece and Athens played in the promotion of the Olympic Movement.After leading all voting rounds, Athens easily defeated Rome in the 5th and final vote. Cape Town, Stockholm, and Buenos Aires, the three other cities that made the IOC shortlist, were eliminated in prior rounds of voting. Six other cities submitted applications, but their bids were dropped by the IOC in 1996. These cities were Istanbul, Lille, Rio de Janeiro, San Juan, Seville, and Saint Petersburg.
|colspan=7||2004 Host City Election — ballot results|
|City||Country (NOC)||bgcolor=silver||Round 1||bgcolor=silver||Round 2||bgcolor=silver||Round 3||bgcolor=silver||Round 4||bgcolor=silver||Round 5|
|Cape Town||South Africa||16||62||22||20||-|
On November 13, 2004, the Greek embassy estimated the costs of hosting the Olympics at 8.954 billion euros (about $11.2 billion in 2004) not including construction made regardless of the Games, but including 1.08 billion Euros ($1.35 billion) in security costs. NBC Universal paid the IOC $793 million for U.S. broadcast rights, the most paid by any country. NBC broadcast over 1200 hours of coverage during the games, triple what was broadcast in the U.S. four years earlier. Between all the NBC Universal networks (NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, USA Network & Telemundo) the games were on television 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Concerns about terrorism elevated following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Greece increased the budget for security at the Olympics to €970 million (US$1.2 billion). Approximately 70,000 police officers patrolled Athens and the Olympic venues during the Olympics. NATO and the European Union also provided minorsupport, after Athens asked for co-operation.
When the International Olympic Committee expressed its concern over the progress of construction work of the new Olympic venues, a new Organizing Committee was formed in 2000 under President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. In the years leading up to the Games, Athens was transformed into a city that used state-of-the-art technology in transportation and urban development. Some of the most modern sporting venues in the world at the time were built to host the 2004 Olympic Games.
The general cost of the games was estimated to be 7.202 billion euros.
By late March 2004, some Olympic projects were still behind schedule, and Greek authorities announced that a roof it had initially proposed as an optional, non-vital addition to the Aquatics Center would no longer be built. The main Olympic Stadium, the designated facility for the opening and closing ceremonies, was completed only two months before the games opened. This stadium was completed with a retractable glass roof designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The same architect also designed the Velodrome and other facilities.
Infrastructure, such as the tram line linking venues in southern Athens with the city proper, and numerous venues were considerably behind schedule just two months before the games. The subsequent pace of preparation, however, made the rush to finish the Athens venues one of the tightest in Olympics history. The Greeks, unperturbed, maintained that they would make it all along. By July/August 2004, all venues were delivered: in August, the Olympic Stadium was officially completed and opened, joined or preceded by the official completion and openings of other venues within the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA), and the sports complexes in Faliro and Helliniko.
Late July and early August witnessed the Athens Tram and Light Rail become operational, and these two systems finally connected Athens with its waterfront communities along the Saronic Gulf. These communities included the port city of Piraeus, Agios Kosmas (site of the sailing venue), Helliniko (the site of the old international airport which now contained the fencing venue, the canoe/kayak slalom course, the 14,500-seat indoor basketball arena, and the softball and baseball stadia), and Faliro (site of the taekwondo, handball, indoor volleyball, and beach volleyball venues, as well as the newly-reconstructed Karaiskaki Stadium for football). The upgrades to the Athens Ring Road were also delivered just in time, as were the expressway upgrades connecting Athens proper with peripheral areas such as Markopoulo (site of the shooting and equestrian venues), the newly constructed Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, Schinias (site of the rowing venue), Maroussi (site of the OAKA), Parnitha (site of the Olympic Village), Galatsi (site of the rhythmic gymnastics and table tennis venue), and Vouliagmeni (site of the triathlon venue). The upgrades to the Athens Metro were also completed, and the new lines became operational by mid-summer.
EMI released Unity, the official pop album of the Athens Olympics, in the leadup to the Olympics. It features contributions from Sting, Lenny Kravitz, Moby, Destiny's Child, and Avril Lavigne. EMI has pledged to donate US$180,000 from the album to UNICEF's HIV/AIDS program in Sub-Saharan Africa.
At least 14 people died during the work on the facilities. Most of these people were not from Greece.
Before the games, Greek hotel staff staged a series of one-day strikes over wage disputes. They had been asking for a significant raise for the period covering the event being staged. Paramedics and ambulance drivers also protested. They claimed to have the right to the same Olympic bonuses promised to their security force counterparts.
See main article: 2004 Summer Olympics torch relay.
The lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame took place on March 25 in Ancient Olympia. For the first time ever, the flame travelled around the world in a relay to former Olympic cities and other large cities, before returning to Greece.
See main article: Athena and Phevos.
Mascots have been a tradition at the Olympic Games since the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. The Athens games had two official mascots: Athiná and Phévos (pronounced in Greek, Athina and Fivos). The sister and brother were named after Athena, the goddess of wisdom, strategy and war, and Phoebus, the god of light and music, respectively. They were inspired by the ancient daidala, which were dolls that had religious connotations as well as being toys.
For the first time, major broadcasters were allowed to serve video coverage of the Olympics over the Internet, provided that they restricted this service geographically, to protect broadcasting contracts in other areas. For instance, the BBC made their complete live coverage available to UK high-speed Internet customers for free; customers in the U.S. were only able to receive delayed excerpts. The International Olympic Committee forbade Olympic athletes, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from setting up specialized weblogs and/or other websites for covering their personal perspective of the games. They were not allowed to post audio, video, or photos that they had taken. An exception was made if an athlete already has a personal website that was not set up specifically for the Games. NBC launched its own Olympic website, NBCOlympics.com. Focusing on the television coverage of the games, it did provide video clips, medal standings, live results. Its main purpose, however, was to provide a schedule of what sports were on the many stations of NBC Universal. The games were on TV 24 hours a day on one network or another.
As with any enterprise, the Organizing Committee and everyone involved with it relied heavily on technology in order to deliver a successful event. ATHOC maintained two separate data networks, one for the preparation of the Games (known as the Administrative network) and one for the Games themselves (Games Network). The technical infrastructure involved more than 11,000 computers, over 600 servers, 2,000 printers, 23,000 fixed-line telephone devices, 9,000 mobile phones, 12,000 TETRA devices, 16,000 TV and video devices and 17 Video Walls interconnected by more than 6,000 kilometers of cabling (both optical fiber and twisted pair).
This infrastructure was created and maintained to serve directly more than 150,000 ATHOC Staff, Volunteers, Olympic family members (IOC, NOCs, Federations), Partners & Sponsors and Media. It also kept the information flowing for all spectators, TV viewers, Website visitors and news readers around the world, prior and during the Games.Between June and August 2004, the technology staff worked in the Technology Operations Center (TOC) from where it could centrally monitor and manage all the devices and flow of information, as well as handle any problems that occurred during the Games. The TOC was organized in teams (e.g. Systems, Telecommunications, Information Security, Data Network, Staffing, etc.) under a TOC Director and corresponding team leaders (Shift Managers). The TOC operated on a 24x7 basis with personnel organized into 12-hour shifts.
See main article: 2004 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.
The widely praised Opening Ceremony by avant garde choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou held on August 13, 2004 began with a twenty eight (the number of the Olympiads up to then) second countdown paced by the sounds of an amplified heartbeat. As the countdown was completed, fireworks rumbled and illuminated the skies overhead. After a drum corps and bouzouki players joined in an opening march, the video screen showed images of flight, crossing southwest from Athens over the Greek countryside to ancient Olympia. Then, a single drummer in the ancient stadium joined in a drum duet with a single drummer in the main stadium in Athens, joining the original ancient Olympic games with the modern ones in symbolism. At the end of the drum duet, a single flaming arrow was launched from the video screen (symbolically from ancient Olympia) and into the reflecting pool, which resulted in fire erupting in the middle of the stadium creating a burning image of the Olympic rings rising from the pool. The Opening Ceremony was a pageant of traditional Greek culture and history hearkening back to its mythological beginnings. The program began as a young Greek boy sailed into the stadium on a 'paper-ship' waving the host nation's flag to aethereal music by Hadjidakis and then a centaur appeared, followed by a gigantic head of a cycladic figurine which eventually broke into many pieces symbolising the Greek islands. Underneath the cycladic head was a Hellenistic representation of the human body, reflecting the concept and belief in perfection reflected in Greek art. A man was seen balancing on a hovering cube symbolising man's eternal 'split' between passion and reason followed by a couple of young lovers playfully chasing each other while the god Eros was hovering above them. There followed a very colourful float parade chronicling Greek history from the ancient Minoan civilization to modern times.
Although NBC in the United States presented the entire opening ceremony from start to finish, a topless Minoan priestess was shown only briefly, the breasts having been pixelated digitally in order to avoid potential fines by the Federal Communications Commission (and because the "Janet Jackson" incident was still in recent memory). Also, lower frontal nudity of men dressed as ancient Greek statues was shown in such a way that the area below the waist was cut off by the bottom of the screen. In most other countries presenting the broadcast, there was no censorship of the ceremony.
Following the artistic performances, a parade of nations entered the stadium with over 10,500 athletes walking under the banners of 201 nations. The nations were arranged according to Greek alphabet making Finland, Fiji, Chile, and Hong Kong the last four to enter the stadium before the Greek delegation. On this occasion, in observance of the tradition that the delegation of Greece opens the parade and the host nation closes it, the Greek flag bearer opened the parade and all the Greek delegation closed it. Based on audience reaction, the emotional high point of the parade was the entrance of the delegation from Afghanistan which had been absent from the Olympics and had female competitors for the first time. The Iraqi delegation also stirred emotions. Also recognized was the symbolic unified march of athletes from North Korea and South Korea under the Korean Unification Flag. The country of Kiribati made a debut at these games and East Timor made a debut under its own flag. After the Parade of Nations, during which the Dutch DJ Tiësto provided the music, the Icelandic singer Björk performed the song Oceania, written specially for the event by her and the poet Sjón.
The Opening Ceremony culminated in the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron by 1996 Gold Medalist Windsurfer Nikolaos Kaklamanakis. The gigantic cauldron, which was styled after the Athens 2004 Olympic Torch, pivoted down to be lit by the 35 year-old, before slowly swinging up and lifting the flame high above the stadium. Kaklamanakis would later win his silver medal in the men's mistral behind Israeli windsurfer Gal Fridman. Following this, the stadium found itself at the centre of a rousing fireworks spectacular.
The Games were concluded on August 29, 2004. The closing ceremony was held at the Athens Olympic Stadium, where the Games had been opened 16 days earlier. Around 70,000 people gathered in the stadium to watch the ceremony.
The initial part of the ceremony interspersed the performances of various Greek singers, and featured traditional Greek dance performances from various regions of Greece (Crete, Pontos, Thessaly, etc). The event was meant to highlight the pride of the Greeks in their culture and country for the world to see.
A significant part of the closing ceremony was the exchange of the Olympic flag of the Antwerp games between the mayor of Athens and the mayor of Beijing, host city of the next Olympic games. After the flag exchange a presentation from the Beijing delegation presented a glimpse into Chinese culture for the world to see. Beijing University students (who were at first incorrectly cited as the Twelve Girls Band) sang Mo Li Hua (Jasmine Flower) and the medal ceremony for the last event of the Olympiad, the men's marathon, was conducted, with Stefano Baldini from Italy as the winner.
A flag-bearer from each nation's delegation then entered along the stage, followed by the competitors en masse on the floor.
Short speeches were presented by Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, President of the Organising Committee, and by President Dr. Jacques Rogge of the IOC, in which he described the Athens Olympics as "unforgettable, dream Games".
It should be noted that Dr. Rogge had previously declared he would be breaking with tradition in his closing speech as President of the IOC and that he would never use the words of his predecessor Juan Antonio Samaranch, who used to always say 'these were the best ever games'. Dr. Rogge had described Salt Lake City 2002 as "superb games" and in turn would continue after Athens 2004 and describe Turin 2006 as "truly magnificent games".
The national anthems of Greece and China were played in a handover ceremony as both nations' flags were raised. The Mayor of Athens, Dora Bakoyianni, passed the Olympic Flag to the Mayor of Beijing, Wang Qishan. After a short cultural performance by Chinese actors, dancers, and musicians directed by eminent Chinese director Zhang Yimou, Rogge declared the 2004 Olympic Games closed. The Olympic flag was next raised again at the next Winter Olympic games in Torino, Italy; opening ceremony there took place on February 10, 2006.
A young Greek girl, Fotini Papaleonidopoulou, lit a symbolic lantern with the Olympic Flame and passed it on to other children before "extinguishing" the flame in the cauldron by blowing a puff of air. The ceremony ended with a variety of musical performances by Greek singers, including George Dalaras, Haris Alexiou, Anna Vissi, Sakis Rouvas, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Alkistis Protopsalti, Antonis Remos, Mixalis Xatzigiannis, Marinella and Dimitra Galani, as thousands of athletes carried out symbolic displays on the stadium floor.
The sports featured at the 2004 Summer Olympics are listed below. Officially there were 28 sports as swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and water polo are classified by the IOC as disciplines within the sport of aquatics, and wheelchair racing was a demonstration sport. For the first time, the wrestling category featured women's wrestling and in the fencing competition women competed in the sabre. American Kristin Heaston, who led off the qualifying round of women's shotput became the first woman to compete at the ancient site of Olympia but Cuban Yumileidi Cumba became the first woman to win a gold medal there.
The demonstration sport of wheelchair racing was a joint Olympic/Paralympic event, allowing a Paralympic event to occur within the Olympics, and for the future, opening up the wheelchair race to the able-bodied. The 2004 Summer Paralympics were also held in Athens, from September 20 to 28.
See main article: 2004 Summer Olympics medal table. The top ten ranked NOCs at these Games are listed below.
All National Olympic Committees (NOCs) participated in the Athens Games, as was the case in 1896. Two new NOCs had been created since 1996, and made their debut at these Games (Kiribati, and Timor-Leste), therefore along with the re-appearance of Afghanistan (missing the 2000 Summer Olympics) the total number of participating nations increased from 199 to 202. Also since 2000, Yugoslavia had changed its name to Serbia and Montenegro and its code from YUG to SCG. The number in brackets indicates the number of participants that NOC contributed.
To commemorate the games, a series of Greek high value euro collectors' coins were minted by the Mint of Greece, in both silver and gold. The pieces depict landmarks in Greece as well as ancient and modern sports on the obverse of the coin. On the reverse, a common motive with the logo of the games, circled by an olive branch representing the spirit of the games.
Preparations to stage the Olympics led to a number of positive developments for the city's infrastructure. These improvements included the establishment of Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, a modern new international airport serving as Greece's main aviation gateway ; expansions to the Athens Metro system; the "Tram," a new metropolitan tram (light rail) system system; the "Proastiakos," a new suburban railway system linking the airport and suburban towns to the city of Athens; the "Attiki Odos," a new toll motorway encircling the city, ; and the conversion of streets into pedestrianized walkways in the historic center of Athens which link several of the city's main tourist sites, including the Parthenon and the Panathinaiko Stadium (the site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896).  All of the above infrastructure is still in use to this day, and there have been continued expansions and proposals to expand Athens' metro, tram, suburban rail and motorway network, the airport, as well as further plans to pedestrianize more thoroughfares in the historic center of Athens.
In 2008 it was reported that almost all of the Olympic venues have fallen into varying states of disrepair: according to those reports, 21 of the 22 facilities built for the games have either been left abandoned or are in a state of dereliction, with several squatter camps having sprung up around certain facilities, and a number of venues afflicted by vandalism, graffiti or strewn with rubbish.   . These claims, however, are disputable and most likely inaccurate, as most of the facilities used for the Athens Olympics are either in use or in the process of being converted for post-Olympics use. The Greek Government has created a corporation, Olympic Properties SA, which is overseeing the post-Olympics management, development and conversion of these facilities, some of which will be sold off (or have already been sold off) to the private sector.  , while other facilities are still in use just as they were during the Olympics, or have been converted for commercial use or modified for other sports. .
The annual cost to maintain the sites has been estimated at £500 million, a sum which has been politically controversial in Greece. , though it should be noted that many of these facilities are now under the control of domestic sporting clubs and organizations or the private sector.
The table below delineates the current status of the Athens Olympic facilities:
|Facility||Olympics Use||Current/Proposed Use|
|Athens Olympic Stadium (OAKA)||Opening & Closing Ceremonies, Track & Field, Football||Home pitch for Panathinaikos FC , AEK FC (football; Greek Super League), UEFA Champions League), Greek national football team (some matches), International football competitions  ; Track & Field events (e.g. IAAF Athens Grand Prix ), Concerts  |
|Athens Olympic Indoor Hall||Basketball, Gymnastics||Home court for Panathinaikos BC and AEK BC (Greek basketball league); Greek National Basketball Team, International basketball competitions , Concerts |
|Athens Olympic Aquatic Centre||Swimming, Diving, Synchronized Swimming, Water Polo||Domestic and international swimming meets   , Public pool|
|Athens Olympic Tennis Centre||Tennis||Domestic and international tennis matches |
|Athens Olympic Velodrome||Cycling||Domestic and international cycling meets |
|Peace and Friendship Stadium||Volleyball||Home court for Olympiacos BC (basketball) , Concerts, Conventions and trade shows|
|Hellinikon Basketball Stadium||Basketball, Handball||Home court for Panionios BC (basketball) , Conventions and trade shows|
|Hellinikon Canoe/Kayak Slalom Centre||Canoe/Kayak||Turned over to a private consortium (J&P AVAX, GEP, Corfu Waterparks and BIOTER), plans to convert it to a water park |
|Hellinikon Olympic Hockey Centre||Field Hockey||Mini-football, will be part of new Hellinikon metropolitan park complex|
|Hellinikon Baseball Stadium||Baseball||Converted to football pitch, home field of Ethnikos Piraeus FC (Football; Greek second division) |
|Hellinikon Softball Stadium||Softball||Concerts|
|Agios Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre||Sailing||Turned over to the private sector (Seirios AE), will become marina with 1,000+ yacht capacity and will be part of Athens' revitalized waterfront|
|Ano Liosia Olympic Hall||Judo, Wrestling||TV filming facility, Future home of the Hellenic Academy of Culture and Hellenic Digital Archive |
|Olympic Beach Volleyball Centre||Beach Volleyball||Concert and theater venue , plans to turn it into an ultra-modern outdoor theater|
|Faliro Sports Pavilion||Handball, Taekwondo||Converted to the Athens International Convention Center, hosts concerts, conventions and trade shows  |
|Galatsi Olympic Hall||Table Tennis, Rhythmic Gymnastics||After 2004, was the home court of AEK BC (basketball) before the team moved to the Athens Olympic Indoor Hall. Turned over to the private sector (Acropol Haragionis AE and Sonae Sierra SGPS S.A), being converted to a shopping mall and retail/entertainment complex.|
|Goudi Olympic Complex||Badminton, Modern Pentathlon||Now the site of the ultra-modern Badminton Theater, hosting major theatrical productions |
|Markopoulo Olympic Equestrian Centre||Equestrian||Horse racing , Domestic and International Equestrian meets  , Auto racing (rallye)|
|Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre||Shooting||Converted to the official shooting range and training center of the Hellenic Police.|
|Nikaia Olympic Weightlifting Hall||Weightlifting||Has hosted fencing competitions in the years following the Olympics, but has recently been turned over to the University of Piraeus for use as an academic lecture and conference center.|
|Parnitha Olympic Mountain Bike Venue||Mountain Biking||Part of the Parnitha National Park. In public use for biking and hiking. |
|Peristeri Olympic Boxing Hall||Boxing||Partially converted to a football pitch, also in use for gymnastics competitions.|
|Schinias Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre||Rowing and Canoeing||One of only three FISA-approved training centers in the world, the others being in Munich and Seville. Hosts domestic and international rowing and canoeing meets.  . Part of the Schinias National Park, completely reconstructed by the German company Hochtief.|
|Vouliagmeni Olympic Centre||Triathlon||Temporary facility, not in existence presently.|
|Kaftanzoglio Stadium||Football||Home pitch for Iraklis FC (football; Greek Super League) and temporary home pitch for Apollon Kalamarias FC (football; Greek second division) . Also in use for track and field meets. Hosted the 2007 Greek football All-Star Game.|
|Karaiskaki Stadium||Football||Home pitch for Olympiacos FC (football; Greek Super League) and for the Greek National Football team . Also used as a concert venue.|
|Pampeloponnisiako Stadium||Football||Home pitch for Panahaiki FC (football; Greek third division) . Also used for various track-and-field events, concerts, conventions, and friendly matches of the Greek National Football Team.|
|Pankritio Stadium||Football||Home pitch for OFI FC  and Ergotelis FC (football; Greek Super League) . Hosted the 2005 Greek football All-Star game.. Also home to various track-and-field meets.|
|Panthessaliko Stadium||Football||Home pitch for Niki Volou FC (football; Greek third division).. Has also hosted concerts, conventions and track-and-field meets.. Will also serve as the main stadium for the 2013 Mediterranean Games.  .|
|Panathainaiko Stadium||Marathon, Archery||Site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. One of Athens' major tourist attractions, also used for occasional sporting and concert events.   |
|The Ancient Stadium at Olympia||Track and Field||One of Greece's historic sites and largest tourist attractions, open to the public to this day.|
|International Broadcast Centre (IBC)||International Broadcast Centre||Has been turned over to the private company Lambda Development SA and is being converted to a shopping, retail, office and entertainment complex to be known as the "Golden Hall." Will also become home to the Hellenic Olympic Museum and the International Museum of Classical Athletics.|
|Main Press Centre (MPC)||Main Press Centre||Has been converted to the new headquarters of the Greek Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity, and the amphitheater contained within has hosted numerous ceremonies and public events. .|
|Olympic Village||Housing||2,292 apartments were sold to low-income individuals and today the village is home to over 8,000 residents.|