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Athens 2004


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I can't believe it's been two whole years already since the start of one of the greatest Games of all time, defying all doomsday predicitions and forecasts. Athens, the city where the modern Olympic Games began, and the Hellenic Republic, or Greece, where the Olympic Games were born, gave the world, in my opinion, the greatest Opening Ceremony ever. It was a wonderful show from start to finish, with the exception of Bjork, so I'll give Torino its due there in having Luciano Pavarotti, though I'm no fan of opera obviously. Torino did put on a good show this past February, but with very little, if any, public support throughout Italy, and from the government itself, compared to the exuberant enthusiasm for the 2004 Games within Greece (how could there not be when you wait 108 years to welcome home one of your proudest creations and contributions to the world), Athens wins hands down, though I do feel sorry for Torino, having their Games sandwiched between the homecoming of the Games to their birthplace in 2004 and the highly anticipated Olympic debut in the People's Republic of China. Plus I don't recall anyone in Greece attacking the torch en route to Athens and trying to throw it away. (I'm sorry if I sound like I'm bashing Italy, because I'm not, all I'm doing is just reporting the facts)

I know there are a lot of you on here who don't think too kindly of the Athens Games, but everything was ready on time, and all the venues and pblic transports worked (then again I wasn't there, but man I wish I was). Granted, I wish the taxpayers, no matter what country, didn't have to bear the brunt of paying off an Olympic Games.

I hope it doesn't take another 108 years for the Games to return home. Hopefully by the time Hellas hosts once again, the sponsors, NOCs and EU take the financial burden off the taxpayers. Greece, two years on, should still be proud of what it accomplished. A nearly flawless Opening, outstanding organization, tough love leadership, but most important, enthusiastic support for Games. What an incredible 17 days. HELLAS HELLAS HELLAS!

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athens did a great job...the fact that they pulled it off certainly gave many other "small" cities the motivation to bid for future games...although the legacy of the games will always be in question...the actual games themselves went well...

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i think athens did a great job in the end, there were no security issues, the ceremonies were brilliant and the sport was exicting. I really think athens can be pround of themselves for the games.

They may have had problems before the games but when it mattered most they were brilliant!

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start by saing I didn't want to talk about it and I've nothing against you Link but I'd ask you

why did you start campare Athens with Torino? summer ceremony with winter ceremony? the topic titles Athens2004 so talk about Athens..

I'm sorry but you can't say "with very little, if any, public support throughout Italy".. did you forget the pics I posted in Torinotorch relay where thousands of people filled up the piazzas of the italian cities? have you been in Torino before and during the games?

please don't mistake a bunch of idiot dissidents for the whole country. :unsure:

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Somethings you -may- wanted to know about Athens 2004:

1. Greeks and Arabs

Since the winning of the Games the government established communication channels with the Arabs. Yaser Arafat was the main channel and he controled many things. Every now and then Greek parliament members were visiting Palestaine to talk about security and possible attacks.

2. Kostas Kenteris vs Nikos Kaklamanakis.

After the accident of Kenteris and Thanou, the morning (06:00) of 13 August there was a meeting between Gianna Aggelopoulou, Marton Simitsek and Dimitris Papaioannou. The scenario of the ceremony was 6 athletes +1 to light the flame (Kenteris). So, from the remaining 6 they choose Kaklamanakis. Gianna calls him, but he's training inside the sea. She calls his mother and tells her to find him and call her. Kaklamanakis calls her and she tells him 'Niko congratulations you're the man who will light the flame inside the stadium'. A car takes him from the Shinias area to the Olympic Stadium and then he does rehearsals with Dimitris Papaioannou. The highlight: They have to take in the outfit (Kenteris has a bigger body than Kaklamanakis), so the outfit doesn't fit him very well.

3. The lost medal

The Dutch rowing athlete Diderik Simon took a taxi. He somehow forgets his silver Olympic medal inside the taxi. The taxi driver finds it, and returns it to the Organizing Comittee. He gets awards from the Greek government and a diploma from IOC. Unfortunately he passed away last December.

4. The cheerleaders of the beach volley

The manager of the sport wanted to have cheerleaders. The director of culture of the Athens 2004 twice told him no. At the end of June, the manager again asks for cheerleaders for the beach volley, he also reminds that the basketball is allowed to have them. The director of culture agrees, but they shouldn't enter the sport area, they could dance around the court. But there is no budget for them. So, he asks the cheerleaders from the Canary islands to come as volunteers. They agree and they come. The beach volley becomes THE event of the Games. Every day (except the first morning) the stadium is full with 10.000 spectators.

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i think in terms of the many things the athens did contribute to the games...one of the important factors was that for a city of its size/country of its size it showed that it was possible to host a games, that certainly inspired other "smaller" cities to host the games and to bid for the games, something that will see another large group of bidders for 2016, which makes the IOC happy...having personally seen the city is important, while some might call it a shithole, it does make you think..."if athens can do it, why not my city?"

as for costs, of course issues, but the games were a success, and thats that

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Somethings you -may- wanted to know about Athens 2004:

1. Greeks and Arabs

Since the winning of the Games the government established communication channels with the Arabs. Yaser Arafat was the main channel and he controled many things. Every now and then Greek parliament members were visiting Palestaine to talk about security and possible attacks.

2. Kostas Kenteris vs Nikos Kaklamanakis.

After the accident of Kenteris and Thanou, the morning (06:00) of 13 August there was a meeting between Gianna Aggelopoulou, Marton Simitsek and Dimitris Papaioannou. The scenario of the ceremony was 6 athletes +1 to light the flame (Kenteris). So, from the remaining 6 they choose Kaklamanakis. Gianna calls him, but he's training inside the sea. She calls his mother and tells her to find him and call her. Kaklamanakis calls her and she tells him 'Niko congratulations you're the man who will light the flame inside the stadium'. A car takes him from the Shinias area to the Olympic Stadium and then he does rehearsals with Dimitris Papaioannou. The highlight: They have to take in the outfit (Kenteris has a bigger body than Kaklamanakis), so the outfit doesn't fit him very well.

3. The lost medal

The Dutch rowing athlete Diderik Simon took a taxi. He somehow forgets his silver Olympic medal inside the taxi. The taxi driver finds it, and returns it to the Organizing Comittee. He gets awards from the Greek government and a diploma from IOC. Unfortunately he passed away last December.

4. The cheerleaders of the beach volley

The manager of the sport wanted to have cheerleaders. The director of culture of the Athens 2004 twice told him no. At the end of June, the manager again asks for cheerleaders for the beach volley, he also reminds that the basketball is allowed to have them. The director of culture agrees, but they shouldn't enter the sport area, they could dance around the court. But there is no budget for them. So, he asks the cheerleaders from the Canary islands to come as volunteers. They agree and they come. The beach volley becomes THE event of the Games. Every day (except the first morning) the stadium is full with 10.000 spectators.

thanks for this: it was interesting to read the lighting of the olympic flame had to be changed and the the outfit was to big for Kaklamanakis!

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Well, imagine if you are preparing it for 2-3 years everything is planned the best possible way, the rehearsals are excellent and the one day before of the opening the main person can't do it and you have some hours to prepare someone else.

Papaioannou in a interview said that the challenge is to be prepared for the things you don't expect.

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Does anyone have any favorite moments from the Games of the XXVIIIth Olympiad? Some of mine are:

Favorite Moments:

4. Paul Hamm wins the men's all-around- I actually knew the outcome in advance of the tape-delayed NBC broadcast, but I still found myself in disbelief while watching it. I knew that Hamm won, but I didn't know any of the particulars of how he did it. And when he fell on the vault, I was seriously questioning whether or not I had read the results correctly; I couldn't imagine any way that he could have come back and medaled, much less won gold. But with the help of some less than clutch performances by the guys ahead of him, and a near-flawless high bar routine, he did it. And there was also that thing with the scoring error. But who cares, that was our revenge for South Korea screwing Roy Jones back in '88. :P

3. Swimming events in general- as always, swimming was extremely exciting and competitive across the board. And of course, Michael Phelps' six golds were a highlight, especially considering how he's a Maryland native and his mother was once one of my teachers in middle school. Plus, I really liked the venue, and I firmly believe that the lack of a roof was a blessing in disguise. It might be a hinderance for the backstrokers, but an outdoor swimming venue is much more aesthetically pleasing than a sterile, indoor venue.

2. Women's 100m hurdles- the prohibitive favorite, Perdita Felicien, wipes out on the very first hurdle and Joanna Hayes runs a somewhat sloppy race (how many hurdles did she clip?), and still wins in world record time. This was one of those true "thrill of victory, agony of defeat" moments where you see two athletes at complete opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. As good as you felt for Hayes, you had to feel just as bad for Felicien, who sat dejectedly on the track, staring blankly with her back to the finish line for what seemed like an eternity.

1. Fani Halkia wins the women's 400m hurdles- every Olympics has that one great home-grown athlete whose victory and ensuing celebration becomes the stuff of legend (Cathy Freeman, Michael Johnson, etc.), and it's especially poignant when it comes from a host country that doesn't exactly win a lot of gold medals. To me, this was that moment from the 2004 Games. To see her come out of that second curve with a huge lead and to hear the crowd build louder and louder before finally reaching a crescendo as she crossed the finish line is one of the more powerful sports moments I've ever watched.

Least favorite moments: Kostas Kenteris disappears, idiot defrocked priest interrupts the men's marathon, and any USA basketball game other than the wins over Spain and Lithuania.

Overall, the Games were outstanding. As much as we whine about construction delays, white elephants, transportation difficulties, sparse attendance (which I did find very disappointing), etc., the athletes always end up coming to the forefront and being the true, overwhelming highlight of any Olympics.

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Favorits moments for me:

5. Chantal Peticlaire finaly going to the Olympic (altought only in a demo sport) wining the 800 meter in wheelchair.

4. Marie-Hélène Prémont wins a silver in femal mountaine biking, just a great race.

3. Karen Cockburn geting her second Olympic medal, a silver in Trampoline.

2. Kyle Shewfelt wins Canada's first ever gold medal in artistic gymnastic; just a fantastic routine!

1. Lori-Ann Muenzer wining the women track sprint, arguable the most memorable canadian Olympic moment since, well, as long as I can remember... Her victory wase truly amazing, and I still remember it as if it wase yesterday.

Now, for wath I didn't like... Well, the Athens Olympic games where, well, abysimal for Canada (with a amazing 35 forth to sixth place finish...) . From Kyle Shewfelt questionably missing the podium in the men's bault event, Émilie Heymans and Alexandre Depatis BOTH finishing forth on the 10m Platforme (while both where world champion in that event...), David Ford finishing forth in the white water event, the Canadian men's lightweight fours rowing team somehow finishing fifth, altought they had yet to loose a race in 2004 (!!!).

But, by far the worst moment of the 2004 Olympic, wase Perdita Felicien not finishing the 100m hurdle. How does it get any worst then that?

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As you all may be able to guess from my username, the Athens Olympics were one of the highlights of my life. I cannot imagine a better Olympic host. No matter how spectacular Bejing turns out to be, the Chinese will not be able to equal the magic and the poetry of Athens.

The charm of Greece and its people is undeniable. People were friendly, helpful (though not always knowledgable), and extremely welcoming. The city itself is a wonderful blend of style, history, and laid-back sloppiness. Where else can you see an impeccably groomed woman in Prada heels walking over broken pavement, past a cluster of stray dogs, beneath a balcony that is overflowing with laundry, while still seeing the Parthenon in the background. Its just an absolutely fantastic atmosphere.

The transportation was excellent. Directions were clear and trains and buses moved efficiently. The venues were gorgeous. Calatrava's roof, arch, animated wall, velodrome were all magnificent. I will never forget how my fellow passengers on the train to OAKA let out a collective gasp as they took in its beauty. It was audible admiration.

Being a very visual person, I especially appreciated the Look of the Games, which I believe is unparalleled. It was quintessentially Greek -- a vibrant Mediterranean palette that oozed with enthusiasm coupled with a relaxed graphic style that evoked history and Athens laid-back style. I firmly believe that the Look is one of the most important elements to creating an Olympic atmosphere and Athens nailed it. "Welcome Home" was the perfect motto.

The other key ingredient to creating a signature Olympic impression is, of course, the Opening Ceremonies. As others have noted, these ceremonies were by far the best of any Games. They were inventive and yet perfectly encapsulated the unique place of these Games in history. Many ceremonies are disjointed collages. While sitting in the stadium I was awed by how seamlessly the elements were woven together. They made artistic and conceptual sense. Admittedly, Bjork was the weak point, but I'm willing to overlook her. I will never understand the complaints I've heard about the music in the Ceremony. I really loved it and wish a CD had been released.

Athens certainly had its flaws. I met a lawyer from the UAE who sprained his ankle by stepping in a hole at OAKA. On a few occasions I had to dodge dangerous pieces of rebar prodtruding from the concrete surrounding the venues. Most of the volunteers were very polite, but knew almost nothing and were of very little help. The food at the venues was inexpensive, but terrible. (Why did they put gyros in hot dog buns?! Ugh.) And of course the patriot missile launcher parked behind the canoeing, kayaking venue was a bit disconcerting.

Still, I can overlook these things. The core of the Games was so good, that the problems can be ignored.

It deeply saddens me that more people did not appreciate the Athens Olympics. The empty seats were so disappointing. Yet the media made such a fuss about how Greece wouldn't be ready and terrorists would be lurking in every corner. It's not surprising that people stayed away. If I were Gianna, I would be insanely proud of myself and hugely irritated with the press.

As for the legacy, I hope the world rediscovers Greece. The price tag of the Games was astronomical. Had the first three years not been wasted, I believe more cost-effective plans could have been found. A better legacy could have been thought through. Time became such an issue that it's no wonder that the legacy suffered. All the focus had to be on the Games themselves. Now, unfortunately, the Greeks are paying the price.

I do my part. I tell everyone I know how much I love the country and how much everyone needs to see it at least once. I hope the tourism picks up.

Others have commented about the Games returning to Athens. To be honest, it's not something I've thought about much. I hope the Olympics return home again in my lifetime. I hope the venues don't fall into such disrepair that they can no longer be used. I hope that Greece can do it again. It may be fifty or sixty years, but if I am able, I will be there.

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I have several favourite moments of the Games. Kakalamanakis lighting the flame was terrific. Fani Halkia's gold win in the 400m hurdles was mind blowing, that literally blew the roof off of the stadium. Shot put at ancient Olympia, the very ground where the Games, and sport as we know it, was born. Sheer brilliance, as was having the marathon finish at the 1896 stadium. South Africa's win in the 4X100 relay in swimming was exciting and shook the U.S. and Australia to the core. Hicham El Garrouj's double in the 1500m and 5000m was one of the more emotional moments as he had waited 8 long years to finally get a gold, what a deserving champion he was. But my favourite moment of Athens 2004 involved Pyrros Dimas. He only got bronze this time out, but to see the reaction he got as he recieved his prize with his kids by his side, it looked to me like the Greek public were not only thanking him for this performance, but also for what he did for Greek sport in general. Think Albania, where he was born, had to be thinking, "What if? What if...?"And for Hellas, that bronze was every bit as good as gold, especially for a national hero like Dimas.

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The greatest momment for me was Athanasia Tsoumeleka winning the gold medal at 20km Walk W. I cried when she finished. I think it was a medal that no one expected in Greece.

She is pregnant now and she didn't participate in Euro Champs.

GEORGEphoto.jpg

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About Pyrros Dimas. Till the end of the WW2, the south part of Albania was Greek territory, the so called 'North Epirus'. After the war they gave it to Albania, but there were Greeks living there, and they still live there.

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I had frogot about Hicham El Garrouj... I wase so happy for him when he won his double gold medal, I don't tink many athleats were more deservant to win those events that him.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...
Does anyone have any favorite moments from the Games of the XXVIIIth Olympiad?

The Greek team entering the stadium at the end of the athlete's parade during the opening ceremony.

Being a very visual person, I especially appreciated the Look of the Games...

I agree. The look was very good. I was expecting something more similar to Atlanta's, but was pleasantly surprised.

It deeply saddens me that more people did not appreciate the Athens Olympics. The empty seats were so disappointing.

Everything was sold out for key events, partcularly everything during the second week. the problem at the beginning of the games was: employees of sponsor corporations who did not use their tickets, and the native population's scheduling, planning on attending the Games towards the end in order to take a holiday in the countryside on August 15 (a major holiday in Greece). All in all, more tickets were sold than at any previous Games except Sydney, and Athens broke global television viewership records.

Yet the media made such a fuss about how Greece wouldn't be ready and terrorists would be lurking in every corner.

Don't get me started on the media-hype, and the securities corporations linked to the media.

As for the legacy, I hope the world rediscovers Greece. The price tag of the Games was astronomical. Had the first three years not been wasted, I believe more cost-effective plans could have been found. A better legacy could have been thought through. Time became such an issue that it's no wonder that the legacy suffered. All the focus had to be on the Games themselves. Now, unfortunately, the Greeks are paying the price.

I do my part. I tell everyone I know how much I love the country and how much everyone needs to see it at least once. I hope the tourism picks up.

Athens could have used better planning, this is true. The main culprit was Greece's notorious slow-moving bureaucracy and red-tape, which led to a delay in several projects. A lesser issue were the NIMBYs ("Not In My Back Yard" people) -the Olympics enjoyed wide public support, but people bickered about Olympic venues or Olympic-related infrastructure in their neighborhood, which they would take to court, and the project would be delayed even further. Part of the astronomical cost was due to the delays, but part of it was from the media security hype. Both were unecessary and the international community (namely the anglosphere) deserves just as much blame as the Greek bureaucracy.

In the end, however, a successful Games was delivered, but even here, the doomsayers didn't stop. The 2004 dip in tourism for Greece (outside Athens) was expected by the doomsayers, to carry over into 2005...which didn't happen: tourism picked up tremendously after the Olympics, and Greece attracted a record 16+ million visitors in 2005 (2005 started as a slow year, but ended up being a record-breaking year). The Olympic investment did after all boost tourism, and figures for 2006 so far look robust (the 2006 tourist season just came to a great close, and many visitors will still trickle in over the next 2 months). Secondly, doomsayers predicted a slowdown of the Greek economy with no more Olympic infrastructure to build: another dooms-day scenario that never materialized. While the cost of living is rising, putting pressures on the Greek public, the economy remains very robust with many many more construction projects all over the country that need completion, in addition to a constantly growing services sector.

I was in Athens for 2004 too, Athensfan. Thanks for the great review!

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