A record 201 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) participated in the Olympic Games. The overall tally for events on the programme was 301 (one more than at the Sydney Games in 2000).
Popularity in the Games also soared, as 3.9 billion people had access to the television coverage compared to 3.6 billion for Sydney. This global audience enjoyed coverage of never-before seen sports such as women's wrestling, which was included in the programme for the first time.
Swimmer Michael Phelps won six gold medals and set a single-Games record with eight total medals. Leontien Ziljaard-van Moorsel became the first female cyclist to earn four career gold medals, reaching a total of six Olympic medals, while canoeist Birgit Fischer became the first athlete in any sport to win two medals in each of five Olympic Games.
Runner Hicham El Guerrouj won both the 1500m and the 5000m, while on the women's side Kelly Holmes triumphed in both the 800m and the 1500m. In team play, Argentina won the men's football tournament without conceding a goal, and the US softball team outscored their opponents by an aggregate score of 51-1.
Athletes: 10,625 athletes (4,329 women, 6,296 men)
Two new National Olympic Committees
Kiribati and Timor Leste entered teams for the first time, although athletes from Timor had competed at the Sydney Olympics as individual Olympic athletes.
Despite continuing warfare back home, the football team from Iraq qualified for the Olympic tournament and made it to the semifinals.
United Arab Emirates
Double trap shooter Ahmed Almaktoum won the first gold medal for the United Arab Emirates.
Thai woman champion
Weightlifter Pawina Thongsuk became the first woman from Thailand to earn a gold medal when she won the 75kg category.
In the men's 81kg category, Ilias Iliadis won Greece's first-ever gold medal in judo.
Chile and China earned their first medals in tennis as Nicolas Massu and Fernando González (on picture) won the men's doubles championship and Massu also won singles, while Ting Li and Tian Tian Sun took the women's doubles title.
In fencing, women's sabre made its debut with Mariel Zagunis of the United States earning the gold medal. It was the first U.S. victory in fencing. Switzerland also claimed its first fencing gold when Marcel Fischer won the men's individual épée.
Greeks in synch
Thomas Bimis and Nikolaos Siranidis captured Greece's first medal in diving with an unexpected victory in synchronized springboard.
Greece first and last
201 National Olympic Committees marched in the Parade of Nations at the Opening Ceremony. Traditionally Greece leads the parade and the host team goes last. Because Greece was the host, they occupied both positions, as weightlifter Pyrros Dimas opened the parade and the rest of the Greek athletes entered at the end.
East African sweep
Kenyans runners swept the medals in the 3,000m steeplechase with Ezekiel Kemboi taking the gold, Brimin Kipruto the silver and Paul K. Koech the bronze.
The marathon races followed the same route as the 1896 race, beginning in Marathon and ending in Athens' Panathenaic Stadium. Vanderlei de Lima of Brazil (on picture) was in the lead of the men's race with less than 7 kilometres to go when a disturbed man pushed him off the course. De Lima held on to earn the bronze medal and was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin Medal in recognition of his Olympic spirit.
The shot put events were held in Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympic Games.
The archery competitions were staged in the same Panathenaic Stadium that was used for the 1896 Olympics.
Women's wrestling debuts
Women's wrestling made its debut with competition in four weight categories. Japanese women earned medals in every division, while France and the United States won two medals each. The first gold medal went to Ukraine's Irini Merlini, who dominated her first 4 opponents in the 48kg category and then won the final on a tiebreaker.
Athens, 13 August, Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad. The last runner of the Olympic Torch relay Nikolaos KAKLAMANAKIS runs past the athletes in the Olympic Stadium. ©IOC/Tsuyoshi Kishimoto
Official opening of the Games by:
President of the Hellenic Republic Konstantinos Stephanopoulos
Lighting the Olympic Flame by:
Nikolaos Kaklamanakis (sailing)
Olympic Oath by:
Zoï Dimoschaki (swimming)
Official Oath by:
Lazaros Voreadis (basketball)
The 2004 Olympic Games emblem is a wreath made from an olive tree branch, or kotinos. The emblem is a reference to the ancient Olympic Games, where the kotinos was the official award of Olympic champions. In addition, the olive was the sacred tree of Athens. The colours of the emblem symbolise the shades of white and blue found in the Greek countryside
The main feature of the medals is the Greek character shown on both sides, since their basic side has been changed for the first time since the Amsterdam Olympic Games in 1928. This is of particular importance, as from now on all Olympic medals will reflect the Greek character of the Games as regards both their origin and their revival. On the medals awarded to Olympic athletes from 1928 until the Sydney Games, goddess Nike was seated, holding an ear of corn in one hand and a wreath in the other. Here, she flies into the stadium bringing victory to the best athlete. The Organising Committee has chosen to show the Panathenic stadium, where the Games were first renewed in 1896. On the obverse, the athlete’s discipline is also engraved. The reverse side of the medal is composed of three elements: The eternal flame that was lit in Olympia and travelled through the five continents by way of the 2004 Torch Relay; the opening lines of Pindar's Eighth Olympic Ode composed in 460 BC to honour the victory of Alkimedon of Aegina in wrestling and the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games emblem. The design of the Medal was created by Elena Votsi.More info
Phevos and Athena
Phevos and Athena. The names of the two mascots are a reference to two gods of Olympus: “Phoebos” is another name for Apollo, the god of light and music; “Athena” is the goddess of wisdom and protector of the city of Athens. The two mascots thus symbolise the link between Ancient Greece and the Olympic Games of the modern era.More info
Number of torchbearers : around 7 700 in Greece and around 3 600 for the international relay
Total distance : around 6 600 km in Greece and over 78 000 km for the international relay
Countries crossed : Greece, Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, people's Republic of China, India, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, United States, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, France, UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Turkey, Bulgaria, Cyprus
The “Official report of the XXVIII Olympiad: Athens 2004” was published by ATHOC in English and Greek. Based on the same model as for Sydney 2000, this official report consisted of a box set of two printed volumes (Homecoming of the Games - organisation and operations; The Games) and a multimedia set, which offered two bilingual CD-ROMs containing the results, and a DVD of the film “Behind the scenes of the Athens 2004 Opening and Closing Ceremonies”.
The “Official Report of the XXVIII Olympiad: Athens 2004” was published by ATHOC in English and Greek. Based on the same model as for Sydney 2000, this official report consisted of a box set of two printed volumes (Homecoming of the Games - organisation and operations; The Games) and a multimedia set, which offered two bilingual CD-ROMs containing the results, and a DVD of the film “Behind the scenes of the Athens 2004 Opening and Closing Ceremonies”.