The 2004 Summer Olympics are officially known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad (the 28th Summer Olympic Games). The Games were held in Athens over 17 days, from August 13 to August 29, 2004. Planners expected 10,500 athletes (in fact 11,099 competed) and 5,500 team officials from 202 countries. Athens 2004 marked the first time since the 1996 Summer Olympics that all countries with a National Olympic Committee were in attendance. There were a total of 301 medal events from 28 different sports.
Bid and preparations
The Olympic Complex was not yet complete in early July 2004, when this photograph was taken.
The ceremony for the lighting of the flame was arranged as a pagan pageant, with "priestesses" dancing.
Main article: 2004 Summer Olympic bids
Athens was chosen as the host city during the 106th IOC Session held in Lausanne in 05 September 1997, after surprisingly losing the bid to organize the 1996 Summer Olympics to Atlanta nearly seven years before, on 18 September 1990, during the 96th IOC Session in Tokyo. Athens, under the direction of Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, pursued another bid, this time for the right to organize the 2004 games. The success of Athens in securing the 2004 Games were based largely on first, the Athens bids' 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, and second, the apparent failure of Atlanta in successfully staging the symbolically significant Centennial Olympic Games in 1996.
In the last round of voting, Athens defeated Rome, Italy, 66 votes to 41. Cape Town, South Africa; Stockholm, Sweden; and Buenos Aires, Argentina, 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, Turkey; Lille, France; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; San Juan, Puerto Rico, Seville, Spain; and Saint Petersburg, Russia .
NBC Universal paid the IOC $793 million for U.S. broadcast rights , the most paid by any country. It was the first Olympics since NBC had merged with Vivendi Universal Entertainment; the merger, along with the acquisitions of the Bravo and Telemundo networks, made it possible for the network to broadcast over 1200 hours of coverage during the games, triple what was broadcast in the U.S. four years earlier.
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, concerns about terrorism were much higher. 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 under President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. Athens was transformed into a city that uses state-of-the-art technology in transportation and urban development. Some of the most modern sporting venues in the world were built to host the 2004 Olympic Games.
For the first time the Olympic Flame toured the world.
Venue construction crisis
By late March 2004, some Olympic projects were still behind schedule, and Greek authorities announced that a roof would no longer be constructed over the main swimming venue. The main Olympic Stadium, the designated facility for the opening and closing ceremonies, was completed only two months before the games opened, with the sliding over of a futuristic glass roof designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava . Other facilities, such as the streetcar line linking the airport, the stadium and the city, were largely unfinished 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 August 2004, the Olympic Stadium was officially completed and opened, and the Athens Tram and Light Rail became operational. The upgrades to the Athens Ring Road were also delivered just in time.
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.
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 19 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 have been asking for a significant raise for the period covering the event being staged. Paramedics and ambulance drivers have also been protesting, as they want the same Olympic bonuses promised to their security force counterparts.
In the event the 2004 games were described as 'unforgettable, dream Games' by the IOC president and the Greek government was congratulated for its organisation.
The mascots were based on this clay model at the National Archaelogical Museum
Soft toys were one of the many items of merchandising available at the Games
Since the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France it has been the tradition to have a mascot for the games; for 2004, the official mascots were sister and brother, Athiná and Phévos (pronounced in Greek, Athina and Fivos), named after the goddess of wisdom, strategy and war and Phoebos the god of light and music, respectively. They were inspired by the ancient daidala which were dolls that had religious links 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. 
The 2004 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony was held on August 13. As part of the theatrics, the Olympic rings are seen burning in a pool of water.
A bare-breasted goddess holding snakes, based on a Minoan statue
The Opening Ceremony held on August 13, 2004 began with a thirty second countdown paced by the sounds of an amplified heartbeat. As the countdown was completed, fireworks rumbled and illuminated the skies overhead as fire erupted from a reflecting pool in the middle of the stadium creating a burning image of the Olympic rings. 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 ship waving the host nation's flag and then various characters from ancient Greek myths appeared, followed by a float parade chronicling Greek history from the ancient Minoan civilization to modern times.
The olympic flame at the Opening Ceremony.
Following the artistic performances, a parade of nations entered the stadium with over 10,500 athletes walking under the banners of 202 nations. 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 appearance at these games and East Timor made a debut appearance under its own flag. Due to the perceived unpopularity of the American-led invasion of Iraq among Greeks, it had been expected that audience members would protest the war during the entrance of the American delegation into the stadium by booing; however, the roar of cheers and applause the Americans received was among the loudest of the evening.After the Parade of Nations, during which the Dutch DJ Tiësto provided the music, the Icelandic singer Björk performed.
Scene from the opening ceremony
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. 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 ceremony ended with a variety of musical performances by Greek singers, including Anna Vissi, Sakis Rouvas, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Alkistis Protopsalti, Marinella, George Dalaras, Dimitra Galani, and Haris Alexiou, as thousands of athletes carried out humorous and symbolic displays on the stadium floor. Before that, the Twelve Girls Band from China 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.
After short speeches by Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, chief Greek organizer of the Games, and by President Dr. Jacques Rogge of the IOC, in which he describes the Athens Olympics as "unforgettable, dream 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.
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 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 demonstation 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 wheelchair racing to the able-bodied. The 2004 Summer Paralympics were also held in Athens, from September 17 to 28.
Football (soccer) venues
Summer Olympic Games
1896 | 1900 | 1904 | 1906¹ | 1908 | 1912 | (1916)² | 1920 | 1924 | 1928 | 1932 | 1936 | (1940)² | (1944)² | 1948 | 1952 | 1956 | 1960 | 1964 | 1968 | 1972 | 1976 | 1980 | 1984 | 1988 | 1992 | 1996 | 2000 | 2004 | 2008 | 2012 | 2016 | 2020
Winter Olympic Games
1924 | 1928 | 1932 | 1936 | (1940)² | (1944)² | 1948 | 1952 | 1956 | 1960 | 1964 | 1968 | 1972 | 1976 | 1980 | 1984 | 1988 | 1992 | 1994 | 1998 | 2002 | 2006 | 2010 | 2014 | 2018
¹Not currently recognised as official by the IOC. ²Cancelled due to war.
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