|Competition type||Olympic Games|
|Opening ceremony||13 August|
|Closing ceremony||29 August|
|Competition dates||11 – 29 August|
|OCOG||Athens Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad|
|Participants||10557 from 201 countries|
|Medal events||301 in 39 disciplines|
|Other events||2 in 1 disciplines|
The Athens Olympic Games were a return of the Olympic Movement to its roots, as the Ancient Olympic Games were held in Greece, in Ancient Olympia, on the Peloponnesus Peninsula. The first Modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, and in 1906, Athens again hosted an Intercalated Games, though not considered official by the IOC. In 1990, Athens bid to host the 1996 Olympic Games, the Centennial Olympics, but lost out to Atlanta. The Greeks and Athenians were bitter that they had not been awarded the right to host the 100th anniversary of the Modern Olympics, but regrouped to bid successfully for the 2004 Olympic Games, narrowly defeating the favorite, Rome.
All would not be well with the Athens organization. In early 2001, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch visited Athens with the Coordination Commission for the Games of the XXVIIIth Olympiad, and was alarmed that, only three years prior to the Olympics, construction had not been started on many of the venues and much of the infrastructure needed to host this huge international celebration was not to be found. Samaranch told the media that he was giving a yellow light to Athens, the smallest Olympic host city since Helsinki in 1952, and many people wondered if the Greeks could actually host a 21st Century Olympic Games.
Around the time of Samaranch’s announcement, the Athens Organizing Committee (ATHOC) hired Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki to return as President of the Organizing Committee. Mrs. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki had been the leader of the successful bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games but originally stepped down from leading ATHOC. Her return was heralded as the best chance the Greeks had to pull off what was becoming by early 2002 an organizational miracle.
Further complicating matters for the Greeks and the IOC was the international situation. After the Twin Towers attack of 11 September 2001, the United States waged war on Afghanistan and in late 2002, invaded Iraq. The Middle East, which sits geographically contiguous to the Greek peninsula, was a firecracker waiting to be lit. Security in Greece was considered to be almost impossibly difficult because of the geography. In addition to sitting near the site of an ongoing war, Greece’s northern border is mountainous which made securing it difficult at best. And the Greek coastline is ragged and completely surrounds 80% of the nation. The cost of increasing security, in light of the world situation, became a major economic anchor on the ATHOC ship.
In the end the Greeks pulled it off. The venues were virtually all completed. The new airport and access roads to and from Athens were finished in plenty of time. Train routes around Athens and to the port city of Piraeus were upgraded and functioned well during the Olympics. There were almost no organizational difficulties once the Games began. The security worries never fully materialized. The only significant breach occurred during the men’s marathon race, on the last day of the Olympics. The Brazilian, Vanderlei de Lima, had a comfortable lead at 20 miles, when he was assaulted by a man who burst on the race course and knocked Lima into the crowd. Lima recovered but lost his rhythm and was eventually passed and finished third. The assailant was an Irish priest who had made similar disruptions at previous sporting events, notably a Formula One race.
The most publicized athlete in Greece was the American swimmer, Michael Phelps. Phelps was trying to better Mark Spitz’s performance from 1972, by winning eight gold medals. He “failed” although he did win eight medals, equaling the record for a single Olympic Games, but “only” six of them gold, missing the seven won by Spitz. Phelps won the 100 butterfly, the 200 butterfly, the 200 individual medley, the 400 individual medley, and relay gold medals in the 4×200 freestyle and 4×100 medley relay. In the 4×100 freestyle, the South Africans pulled off an improbable upset, and the favored United States team, led by Phelps, took only a bronze. In the 200 freestyle, Phelps finished third, with Australia’s Ian Thorpe winning the race. Thorpe, the swimming star of the 2000 Olympics, also won the 400 freestyle, and added silver in the 4×100 free relay and a bronze in the 100 freestyle.
On the track, the biggest star was Britain’s Kelly Holmes, who became only the third woman to win the Olympic 800 / 1,500 metre double. (Also won in 1976 by Tatyana Kazankina [URS] and in 1996 by Svetlana Masterkova [RUS].) However, the highlights of the track & field competition did not take place within the main Olympic stadium. The men’s and women’s marathons ran the original marathon course, beginning in the village of Marathon, and finished in the original Panathenaic Stadium, site of the 1896 and 1906 Olympics.
And for the first time since the end of the Ancient Olympic Games in 393 CE, the Olympics returned to Ancient Olympia. The men’s and women’s shot put competitions were held in the Ancient Olympic Stadium, with no seats. As in the ancient Games, the spectators sat on the side of a hill, with no cover from the brilliant Greek summer sun. The Olympic Games had come home.
Bid voting at the 106th IOC Session in Lausanne on 5 September 1997. Because of the number of candidate cities, an Evaluation Commission of the IOC was nominated whose task was to pare the number of candidates down to a more workable four or five prior to the final vote. There were six eliminated cities: Istanbul (Turkey), Lille (France), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Seville (Spain) and St. Petersburg (Russia).
|Round 1||Tiebreak||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4|
|Cape Town||South Africa||16||62||22||20||–|
|Officially opened by||Konstantinos Stephanopoulos (President)|
|Torchbearer(s)||Nikos Kaklamanakis (Lit flame), Ioannis Melissanidis, Akakios Kakiasvili, Voula Patoulidou, Mimis Domazos, Nikos Galis|
|Taker of the Athlete's Oath||Zoi Dimoskhaki|
|Taker of the Official's Oath||Lazaros Voradis (Basketball)|
|Olympic Flag Bearers||Mikhail Mouroutsos, Petros Galaktopoulos, Niki Bakogianni, Ilias Khatzipavlis, Dimosthenis Tambakos, Valerios Leonidis, Leonidas Kokas, Angelos Basinas|
|Artistic Swimming||Equestrian Dressage||Softball|
|Badminton||Equestrian Jumping||Table Tennis|
|Canoe Sprint||Modern Pentathlon||Water Polo|
|Cycling Mountain Bike||Rhythmic Gymnastics||Weightlifting|
|People's Republic of China||CHN||32||17||14||63|
|Republic of Korea||KOR||9||12||9||30|
|Islamic Republic of Iran||IRI||2||2||2||6|
|United Arab Emirates||UAE||1||0||0||1|
|Democratic People's Republic of Korea||PRK||0||4||1||5|
|Serbia and Montenegro||SCG||0||2||0||2|
|Hong Kong, China||HKG||0||1||0||1|
|Syrian Arab Republic||SYR||0||0||1||1|
|Trinidad and Tobago||TTO||0||0||1||1|
|Hicham El Guerrouj||MAR||2||0||0||2|
|Natasa Dusev-Janics|| HUN