2004 Summer Olympics closing ceremony

"Athens 2004" redirects here. For the video game, see Athens 2004 (video game). For the Paralympic Games, see 2004 Summer Paralympics.

Games of the Olympiad
154px
Host city Athens, Greece
Motto "Welcome Home" in Greek: "Καλως Ήρθες 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 President Konstantinos Stephanopoulos
Athlete's Oath Zoi Dimoschaki
Judge's Oath Lazaros Voreadis
Olympic Torch Nikolaos Kaklamanakis
Stadium Olympic Stadium


The 2004 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, were 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. It was also the first time since 1896 (other than the since-downgraded 1906 Intercalated Games) that the Olympics were held in Greece.

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.[3] The new design features the Panathinaiko Stadium.[4]

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.[5]

Host city selection

Athens was chosen as the host city during the 106th IOC Session held in Lausanne on 5 September 1997. Athens had lost its bid to organize the 1996 Summer Olympics to Atlanta nearly seven years before on 18 September 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 could play in promoting Olympism and the Olympic Movement. Furthermore; unlike their bid for the 1996 Games which was largely criticized for its overall disorganization and arrogance – wherein the bid lacked specifics and relied largely upon sentiment and the notion that it was Athens' right to organize the Centennial Games;[6] the bid for the 2004 Games was lauded for its humility and earnestness, its focused message, and its detailed bid concept.[7] The 2004 bid addressed concerns and criticisms raised in its unsuccessful 1996 bid – primarily Athens' infrastructural readiness, its air pollution, its budget, and politicization of Games preparations.[8] Athens' successful organization of the 1997 World Championships in Athletics the month before the host city election was also crucial in allaying lingering fears and concerns among the sporting community and some IOC members about its ability to host international sporting events.[9] Another factor which also contributed to Athens' selection was a growing sentiment among some IOC members to restore the values of the Olympics to the Games, a component which they felt was lost during the heavily criticized over-commercialization of Atlanta 1996 Games.[10] Subsequently, the selection of Athens was also motivated by a lingering sense of disappointment among IOC members regarding the numerous organizational and logistical setbacks experienced during the 1996 Games.[10]

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.[11]

2004 Host City Election – ballot results
City Country (NOC) Round 1 Run-off Round 2 Round 3 Round 4
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

Development and preparation

Costs

In June 2004, the BBC reported that the costs of hosting Olympic Games were close to € 10 billion.[12] On 13 November 2004, the Greek embassy estimated the costs of hosting the Olympics at €8.954 billion (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.[13] NBC Universal paid the IOC $793 million (adjusted by inflation: $990132311) for U.S. broadcast rights,[14] 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 11 September 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 minor support, 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.

Construction

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 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.

EMI released Unity, the official pop album of the Athens Olympics, in the leadup to the Olympics.[15] It features contributions from Sting, Lenny Kravitz, Moby, Destiny's Child, and Avril Lavigne.[15] EMI has pledged to donate US$180,000 from the album to UNICEF's HIV/AIDS program in Sub-Saharan Africa.[15]

At least 14 people died during the work on the facilities. Most of these people were not from Greece.[16]

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.

Torch relay


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.

Mascots

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.

Online coverage

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.[17] 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.[18] 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.

Technology


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

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.

The Games

Opening Ceremony

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.[19] 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.

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. Many key moments in the ceremony, including the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron, featured music composed and arranged by John Psathas[20] 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.

Participating National Olympic Committees

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