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2004 Summer Olympics

Games of the XXVIII Olympiad
Host city Athens, Greece
Motto Welcome Home (Greek: Καλώς ήλθατε σπίτι)
Nations participating 201[1]
Athletes participating 10,625 (6,296 men, 4,329 women)[2]
Events 301 in 28 sports
Opening ceremony August 13
Closing ceremony August 29
Officially opened by Konstantinos Stephanopoulos
President of the Hellenic Republic
Athlete's Oath Zoi Dimoschaki
Judge's Oath Lazaros Voreadis
Olympic Torch Nikolaos Kaklamanakis
Stadium Olympic Stadium
The ceremony for the lighting of the flame is arranged as a pagan pageant, with priestesses dancing.

The 2004 Summer Olympic Games (Modern Greek: Θερινοί Ολυμπιακοί Αγώνες 2004, Therinoí Olympiakoí Agó̱nes 2004[3]), officially known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad and commonly known as Athens 2004, was a premier international multi-sport event held in Athens, Greece, from 13 to 29 August 2004 with the motto Welcome Home. 10,625 athletes competed,[1] some 600 more than expected, accompanied by 5,501 team officials from 201 countries.[1] There were 301 medal events in 28 different sports.[1] Athens 2004 marked the first time since the 1996 Summer Olympics that all countries with a National Olympic Committee were in attendance. 2004 marked the return of the games to the city where they began.

A new medal obverse was introduced at these Games, replacing the design by Giuseppe Cassioli that had been used since the 1928 Games. This rectified the long lasting mistake of using a depiction of the Roman Colosseum rather than a Greek venue.[4] The new design features the Panathinaiko Stadium.[5]

The 2004 summer games were hailed as "unforgettable, dream games" by IOC President Jacques Rogge, and left Athens with a significantly improved infrastructure, including a new airport, ring road, and subway system.[6]


  • Host city selection 1
  • Development and preparation 2
    • Costs 2.1
    • Construction 2.2
  • Torch relay 3
  • Mascots 4
  • Online coverage 5
  • Technology 6
  • The Games 7
    • Opening Ceremony 7.1
    • Participating National Olympic Committees 7.2
    • Sports 7.3
    • Calendar 7.4
    • Highlights 7.5
    • Closing Ceremony 7.6
  • Medal count 8
  • Venues 9
    • OAKA 9.1
    • HOC 9.2
    • Faliro 9.3
    • GOC 9.4
    • Football venues 9.5
    • Other venues 9.6
  • Legacy 10
  • Broadcast rights 11
  • Post-competition developments 12
  • See also 13
  • Notes 14
  • References 15
  • External links 16

Host city selection

Preceded by
Summer Olympic Games

XXVIII Olympiad (2004)
Succeeded by
  • Pictures from the opening ceremony
  • Project to fly the 2004 Olympic Flame around the world on a B747 aircraft
  • Pictures backstage from the opening ceremony
  • 2004 Athens Olympics at DMOZ
  • BBC coverage

External links


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^
  3. ^ Standard Greek pronunciation is
  4. ^ Winner Medals, Olympic Games Museum. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  5. ^ Athens' New Olympic Medal Design Win IOC's Nod, People Daily. Accessed 5 August 2011.
  6. ^ a b c
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  13. ^ 'Net benefit for the economy' At 8.5 bn. Euros the total gross cost of the 2004 Olympic Games,, 18 January 2013, 11:04 GMT 13:04 GR
  14. ^ Surplus 7 million presents the financial report of "Athens 2004",,, 12 May. 2005, 20:27 GMT 22:27 GR
  15. ^ Published Accounts of the ATHENS 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, Greek Official Gazette, FEK5395/2005
  16. ^ Olympics 'may cost Greece dear', Wednesday, 2 June 2004, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
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  23. ^ Although they marched in the Parade of Nations, neither athlete competed.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j
  25. ^ a b c IOC to Strip Hamilton of Athens Gold on YouTube
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  29. ^ Archived 11 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
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  36. ^ [1] Archived 16 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
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  40. ^ Archived 19 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
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  45. ^ – Home page
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  51. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Archived 7 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
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  55. ^ Archived 10 August 2015 at the Wayback Machine
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  59. ^ etipos/
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  65. ^ a b c d Media
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  84. ^ [2] Archived 5 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
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  87. ^ [3] Archived 18 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
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  92. ^ Archived 28 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
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See also

On 6 December 2012, the IOC stripped medals from four athletes caught doping at the 2004 Athens Olympics including one gold medalist and postponed a decision to revoke Lance Armstrong's bronze from the 2000 Sydney Games. The IOC also disqualified four athletes whose Athens doping samples were retested earlier in the year and came back positive, including shot put gold medalist Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine. The others are hammer throw silver medalist Ivan Tskikhan of Belarus and two bronze medalists, women's shot putter Svetlana Krivelyova of Russia and discus thrower Irina Yatchenko of Belarus. The case of a fifth bronze medalist, weightlifter Oleg Perepechenov of Russia, remains pending.[98]

Post-competition developments

Broadcast rights

Facility Olympics use Current/Proposed use
Athens Olympic Stadium (OAKA) Opening & Closing Ceremonies, Track & Field, Football Home pitch for Panathinaikos FC,[36] AEK FC[37] (football; Greek Super League, UEFA Champions League), Greek national football team (some matches), International football competitions;[38] Track & Field events (e.g. IAAF Athens Grand Prix[39]), Concerts[40][41][42]
Athens Olympic Indoor Hall Basketball, Gymnastics Home court for Panathinaikos BC[43] and AEK BC[44] (Greek basketball league); Greek National Basketball Team, International basketball competitions,[45] Concerts[46][47]
Athens Olympic Aquatic Centre Swimming, Diving, Synchronized Swimming, Water Polo Domestic and international swimming meets,[48][49][50] Public pool,[51] domestic league and European water-polo games.
Athens Olympic Tennis Centre Tennis Domestic and international tennis matches, training courts open to the public and home of the Athens Tennis Academy, currently the best-kept facility in the complex[52][53]
Athens Olympic Velodrome Cycling Domestic and international cycling meets[54]
Peace and Friendship Stadium Volleyball Home court for Olympiacos BC (basketball),[55] Concerts, Conventions and trade shows[56]
Helliniko Olympic Indoor Arena Basketball, Handball Home court for Panionios BC (basketball),[57] Conventions and trade shows[51]
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,[58][59] although currently it is abandoned.
Hellinikon Olympic Hockey Centre Field Hockey Mini-football, will be part of new Hellinikon metropolitan park complex[60]
Hellinikon Baseball Stadium Baseball Main ground (no. 1) converted to football pitch, home field of Ethnikos Piraeus F.C. (Football; Greek second division),[61] auxiliary ground (no. 2) abandoned.
Hellinikon Softball Stadium Softball Abandoned[60]
Agios Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre Sailing Currently out of use, turned over to the private sector (Seirios AE), will become marina with 1,000+ yacht capacity[62] and will be part of Athens' revitalized waterfront[63]
Ano Liosia Olympic Hall Judo, Wrestling TV filming facility,[51] Future home of the Hellenic Academy of Culture and Hellenic Digital Archive[64][65]
Olympic Beach Volleyball Centre Beach Volleyball Concert and theater venue, it hosted Helena Paparizou's concert on 13 August 2005 to celebrate the first anniversary of the Olympic Games, currently sees minimal usage[66] plans to turn it into an ultra-modern outdoor theater[51]
Faliro Sports Pavilion Handball, Taekwondo Converted to the Athens International Convention Center, hosts concerts, conventions and trade shows[51][65][67][68][69]
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.[70]
Goudi Olympic Complex Badminton, Modern Pentathlon Now the site of the ultra-modern Badminton Theater, hosting major theatrical productions[71][72]
Markopoulo Olympic Equestrian Centre Equestrian Horse racing,[73] Domestic and International Equestrian meets,[74][75] Auto racing (rallye)[76]
Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre Shooting Converted to the official shooting range and training center of the Hellenic Police.,[62][77] but sees hardly any use and is reported to be heavily vandalised.
Nikaia Olympic Weightlifting Hall Weightlifting Has hosted fencing competitions in the years following the Olympics,[51] but has recently been turned over to the University of Piraeus for use as an academic lecture and conference center.[65][78]
Parnitha Olympic Mountain Bike Venue Mountain Biking Part of the Parnitha National Park. In public use for biking and hiking.[79][80]
Peristeri Olympic Boxing Hall Boxing Partially converted to a football pitch, also in use for gymnastics competitions.[51]
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.[62] Hosts mainly domestic rowing and canoeing meetings.[81][82] Part of the Schinias National Park, completely reconstructed by the German company Hochtief.,[51] has not been used since the Olympics and its waters are becoming more of a swamp. The increase in mosquitoes and other insects in neighbouring areas is thought to be because of the abandonment of the Rowing Centre which has been colonised by them.
Vouliagmeni Olympic Centre Triathlon Temporary facility, not in existence presently.
Kaftanzoglio Stadium Football Home pitch for Iraklis FC (football; Greek Super League)[83] and temporary home pitch for Apollon Kalamarias FC (football; Greek second division).[84] Also in use for track and field meets.[85] Hosted the 2007 Greek football All-Star Game.
Karaiskaki Stadium Football Home pitch for Olympiacos FC (football; Greek Super League)[86] 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).[87] Also used for various track-and-field events, concerts, conventions, and friendly matches of the Greek National Football Team.[51]
Pankritio Stadium Football Home pitch for OFI FC[88][89] and Ergotelis FC (football; Greek Super League).[89][90] Hosted the 2005 Greek football All-Star game. Also home to various track-and-field meets.[51]
Panthessaliko Stadium Football Home pitch for Niki Volou FC (football; Greek third division).[51] Has also hosted concerts, conventions and track-and-field meets.[51]
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.[91][92][93][94]
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.[95]
International Broadcast Centre (IBC) International Broadcast Centre Half of it (the section fronting Kifissias Avenue) has been turned over to the private company Lambda Development SA and has been converted to a luxury shopping, retail, office and entertainment complex known as the "Golden Hall."[96] The remaining section, facing the Olympic Stadium itself, will become home to the Hellenic Olympic Museum and the International Museum of Classical Athletics.[51]


Olympic Athletes' Village Housing 2,292 apartments were sold to low-income individuals and today the village is home to over 8,000 residents.[51] Several communal installations however are abandoned and heavily vandalised.
Olympic Press Village Housing It has been turned over to the private sector and namely Lamda Developments S.A. (the same company which owns and runs the Mall of Athens and the Golden Hall), and has been converted to luxury flats.

The table below delineates the current status of the Athens Olympic facilities:

As of 2012 many conversion schemes have stalled owing to the Greek government-debt crisis. The annual cost to maintain the sites has been estimated at £500 million, a sum which has been politically controversial in Greece,[35] though many of these facilities are now under the control of domestic sporting clubs and organizations or the private sector.

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,[32][33] while some other facilities are still in use, or have been converted for commercial use or modified for other sports.[34]

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;[26] expansions to the Athens Metro[27] system; the "Tram", a new metropolitan tram (light rail) system[28] 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,[29] 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).[30][31] 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.

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 motif with the logo of the games, circled by an olive branch representing the spirit of the games.

Ecuadorian postage stamp to commemorate the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens
Latvian postage stamp to commemorate the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens


Galatsi Olympic Hall hosted gymnastics (rhythmic) and table tennis

Other venues

Football venues


Faliro Olympic Beach Volleyball Centre hosting beach volleyball





  *   Host nation (Greece)

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States 35 40 26 101[25]
2 China 32 17 14 63
3 Russia 28 26 36 90[25]
4 Australia 17 16 17[25] 50
5 Japan 16 9 12 37
6 Germany 13 16 20 49
7 France 11 9 13 33
8 Italy 10 11 11 32
9 South Korea 9 12 9 30
10 Great Britain 9 9 12 30
15 Greece 6 6 4 16

These are the top ten nations that won medals in the 2004 Games.

Army Maj. Michael Anti (left) holds up his Silver medal in the Men's 50m Three-Position Rifle, Zhanbo Jia from China (center) took the Gold and Christian Planer (right) from Austria took the Bronze

Medal count

A young Greek girl, Fotini Papaleonidopoulou, lit a symbolic lantern with the Haris Alexiou, Anna Vissi, Sakis Rouvas, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Alkistis Protopsalti, Antonis Remos, Michalis Hatzigiannis, Marinella and Dimitra Galani, as thousands of athletes carried out symbolic displays on the stadium floor.

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 on 10 February 2006 during the opening ceremony of next Winter Olympic games in Torino.

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'.[6] 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."

Short speeches were presented by [6]

A flag-bearer from each nation's delegation then entered along the stage, followed by the competitors en masse on the floor.

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 Olympics, the men's marathon, was conducted, with Stefano Baldini from Italy as the winner. The bronze medal winner, Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima of Brazil, was simultaneously announced as a recipient of the Pierre de Coubertin medal for his bravery in finishing the race despite being attacked by a rogue spectator while leading with 7 km to go.

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.

The Games were concluded on 29 August 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.

Balloons falling at the Athens 2004 Olympics Closing ceremony

Closing Ceremony

  • The shot put event was held in ancient Olympia, site of the ancient Olympic Games (that is the very first time women athletes competed in Ancient Olympia), while the archery competition was held in the Panathinaiko Stadium, in which the 1896 games were held.[24]
  • Kiribati and Timor Leste participated for the first time in the Olympic Games.[24]
  • Women's wrestling and women's sabre made their debut at the 2004 games.[24]
  • Greece had its best ever medal tally, 6 gold, 6 silver, and 4 bronze, since hosting the 1896 games, and also won Euro 2004 in July.
  • The marathon was held on the same route as the 1896 games, beginning in the site of the Battle of Marathon to the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens.[24]
  • Australia became the first country in Olympic history to win more gold medals (17) immediately after hosting the Olympics in Sydney 2000 where they won 16 gold medals.
  • World record holder and strong favourite Paula Radcliffe crashes out of the women's marathon in spectacular fashion, leaving Mizuki Noguchi to win the gold.
  • While leading in the men's marathon with less than 10 kilometres to go, Brazilian runner Vanderlei de Lima is attacked by Irish priest Cornelius Horan and dragged into the crowd. De Lima recovered to take bronze, and was later awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship.[24]
  • British athlete Kelly Holmes wins gold in the 800 m and 1500 m.[24]
  • Liu Xiang wins gold in the 110 m hurdles, equalling Colin Jackson's 1993 world record time of 12.91 seconds. This was China's first ever gold in men's track and field.
  • Kenyan runners swept the medals in the 3000 meters steeple chase.[24]
  • The Olympics saw Afghanistan's first return to the Games since 1996 (it was banned due to the Taliban's extremist attitudes towards women, but was reinstated in 2002).
  • Hicham El Guerrouj wins gold in the 1500 m and 5000 m. He is the first person to accomplish this feat at the Olympics since Paavo Nurmi in 1924.[24]
  • Greek athlete Fani Halkia comes out of retirement to win the 400 m hurdles.
  • The US women's 4x200m swimming team of Natalie Coughlin, Carly Piper, Dana Vollmer and Kaitlin Sandeno win gold, smashing the long-standing world record set by the German Democratic Republic in 1987.
  • The United States lost for the first time in Olympic men's basketball since NBA players were permitted to play in the Games. This defeat came at the hands of Puerto Rico 92–73.
  • Argentina won a thrilling victory over the United States in the semi-finals of men's basketball. They went on to beat Italy 84–69 in the final.
  • Windsurfer Gal Fridman wins Israel's first-ever gold medal.
  • Dominican athlete Félix Sánchez won the first ever gold medal for the Dominican Republic in the 400 m hurdles event.
  • German kayaker Birgit Fischer wins gold in the K-4 500 m and silver in the K-2 500 m. In so doing, she became the first woman in any sport to win gold medals at 6 different Olympics, the first woman to win gold 24 years apart and the first person in Olympic history to win two or more medals in five different Games.
  • Swimmer Michael Phelps wins 8 medals (including a record 6 gold and 2 bronze), becoming the first athlete to win 8 medals in non boycotted Olympics.[24]
  • United States' gymnast Carly Patterson becomes only the second American woman to win the all-around gold medal.
  • Chilean Tennis players Nicolás Massu and Fernando Gonzalez won the gold medal in the Doubles Competition, while Massu won the gold and Gonzalez the bronze on the Singles competition. These were Chile's first-ever gold medals. With these victories, Massú became the thirteenth Tennis player (and the eighth male player) in history to have won the gold medal in both the Singles and Doubles Competition during the same Olympic Games. He also became the second Tennis player, and first male player, to have achieved this feat in modern Olympic Tennis (1988 onwards). The first player to do so was Venus Williams in 2000.[24]
  • Anchored by Brazil, South America had its best Olympics, with nine Gold Medals.


31 sports
 ●  Opening ceremony     Event competitions  ●  Event finals  ●  Closing ceremony
August 11th



Field hockey
Football (soccer)

Modern pentathlon


Synchronized swimming
Table tennis
Water polo
Total gold medals
Cumulative total
August 11th
All times are in Eastern European Summer Time (UTC+3)


2004 Summer Olympic Sports Programme
Weston Kelsey (right) from the USA against Igor Tourchine (left) from Russia in the second round of the Olympic Men's Individual Épée
Roger Federer representing Switzerland at tennis.
Archery matches in the stadium during the 2004 Olympics.
USA Men's Lightweight Four in Athen's Olympics

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 17 to 28 September.

The sports featured at the 2004 Summer Olympics are listed below. Officially there were 301 events in 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.


Participating National Olympic Committees
Participating nations
Participating nations 
Team numbers 

All National Olympic Committees (NOCs) participated in the Athens Games, as was the case in 1996. Two new NOCs had been created since 1996 and made their debut at these Games (Kiribati and Timor-Leste). Therefore, with the re-appearance of Afghanistan (missing the 2000 Summer Olympics) the 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 parentheses indicates the number of participants each NOC contributed.

Participating National Olympic Committees

The Opening Ceremony culminated in the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron by 1996 Gold Medalist Windsurfer Nikolaos Kaklamanakis. Many key moments in the ceremony, including the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron, featured music composed and arranged by John Psathas[22] from New Zealand. 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. Following this, the stadium found itself at the centre of a rousing fireworks spectacular.

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 widely praised Opening Ceremony Directed by avant garde choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou and Produced by Jack Morton Worldwide led by Project Director David Zolkwer was held on 13 August 2004. It began with a twenty eight (the number of the Olympiads up to then) second countdown paced by the sounds of an amplified heartbeat.[21] 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 controversy (as the "Nipplegate" incident was still fresh in viewer's minds at the time) and potential fines by the Federal Communications Commission. 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.

The Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony

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.

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. The Media Center was located inside the Zappeion which is a Greek national exhibition center.

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).

Olympic Airlines Boeing 737-484 decorated with the colours of the 2004 Olympics
View of the ATHOC Technology Operations Center during the Games.


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.[19] 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.[20] NBC launched its own Olympic website, 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.

Online coverage

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.

A plush mascot
The mascots were based on this clay model at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens


The lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame took place on 25 March in Ancient Olympia. For the first time ever, the flame travelled around the world in a relay to former, next, and later Olympic cities and other large cities, before returning to Greece.

For the first time the Olympic Flame toured the world

Torch relay

Panorama of Athens Olympic Sports Complex.

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.

At least 14 people died during the work on the facilities. Most of these people were not from Greece.[18]

EMI released Unity, the official pop album of the Athens Olympics, in the leadup to the Olympics.[17] It features contributions from Sting, Lenny Kravitz, Moby, Destiny's Child, and Avril Lavigne.[17] EMI has pledged to donate US$180,000 from the album to UNICEF's HIV/AIDS program in Sub-Saharan Africa.[17]

Late July and early August witnessed the Athens Tram become operational, and this system provided additional connections to those already existing between Athens and 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 15,000-seat Helliniko Olympic Basketball Arena, and the softball and baseball stadia), and the Faliro Coastal Zone Olympic Complex (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.

The Athens Olympic Velodrome during the Olympic games of 2004

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.

The Olympic Outdoor Aquatic Center

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.

The Olympic Indoor Aquatic Center
The OAKA Plaza and Arch adjacent to the Olympic Stadium


The final verdict on the cost of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, in the words of the Greek Minister of Finance, is that "as a result from the cost-benefit analysis, we reach the conclusion that there has been a net economic benefit from the Olympic Games"

On the revenue side, the same report estimates that incremental tax revenues of approximately €3.5 billion arose from the increased activities caused by the Athens 2004 Olympic Games during the period 2000 to 2004. These tax revenues were paid directly to the Greek state specifically in the form of incremental social security contributions, income taxes and VAT tax paid by all the companies, professionals, and service providers that were directly involved with the Olympic Games. Moreover, it is reported that the Athens 2004 Olympic Games have had a great economic growth impact on the tourism sector, one of the pillars of the Greek economy, as well as in many other sectors.

It was in this sense that the Greek Ministry of Finance reported in 2013 that the expenses of the Greek state for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, including both infrastructure and organizational costs, reached the amount of €8.5 billion. The same report further explains that €2 billion of this amount was covered by the revenue of the ATHOC (from tickets, sponsors, broadcasting rights, merchandise sales etc.) and that another €2 billion was directly invested in upgrading hospitals and archaeological sites. Therefore, the net infrastructure costs related to the preparation of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games was €4.5 billion, substantially lower than the reported estimates,[16] and mainly included long-standing fixed asset investments in numerous municipal and transport infrastructures.

Often analysts refer to the "Cost of the Olympic Games" by taking into account not only the Organizing Committee’s budget (i.e. the organizational cost) directly related to the Olympic Games, but also the cost incurred by the hosting country during preparation, i.e. the large projects required for the upgrade of the country’s infrastructure, including sports infrastructure, roads, airports, hospitals, power grid etc. This cost, however, is not directly attributable to the actual organisation of the Games. Such infrastructure projects are considered by all fiscal standards as fixed asset investments that stay with the hosting country for decades after the Games. Also, in many cases these infrastructure upgrades would have taken place regardless of hosting the Olympic Games, although the latter may have acted as a "catalyst".

The overall revenue of ATHOC, including income from tickets, sponsors, broadcasting rights, merchandise sales etc., totalled €2,098.4 million. The largest percentage of that income (38%) came from broadcasting rights. The overall expenditure of ATHOC was €1,967.8 million.

The State’s contribution to the total ATHOC budget was 8% of its expenditure against an originally anticipated 14%. [15][14] The Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC), responsible for the preparation and organisation of the games, concluded its operations as a company in 2005 with a surplus of

According to the cost-benefit evaluation of the impact of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games presented to the Greek Parliament in January 2013 by the Minister of Finance Mr. Giannis Stournaras, the overall net economic benefit of the games for Greece was positive.[13]


Development and preparation

2004 Host City Election – ballot results
City Country (NOC) Round 1 Run-off Round 3 Round 4 Round 5
Athens  Greece 32 38 52 66
Rome  Italy 23 28 35 41
Cape Town  South Africa 16 62 22 20
Stockholm  Sweden 20 19
Buenos Aires  Argentina 16 44

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.[12]


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