Paralympic Summer Games -- Athens 2004
17 - 28 September 2004
On 17 September 2004, the ATHENS 2004 Paralympic Games began with a colorful and spectacular Opening Ceremony, marking the beginning of unique Games and bringing together the world's best athletes with a disability. Seventy-three of the 136 competing nations won at least one medal during these Paralympic Games – several of these countries secured their first medal in Paralympic Games history. For 17 countries, these were their first Paralympics ever.
During Games time, the Paralympic Village was home to 3,806 athletes, around 2,200 NPC team officials and 1,000 Games officials. A total of 1,160 women (31% of the total number of athletes) competed at the Games, with female athletes competing in Judo and Volleyball (Sitting) for the first time.
Excellent sporting performances in 19 sports resulted in 304 world records and 448 Paralympic records. China took the top spot in the final medal tally for the ATHENS 2004 Paralympic Games. The 2008 Paralympic Games host won 141 medals in total, 63 of which were gold. Great Britain finished second overall capturing 35 gold medals followed by Canada with 28 gold. One of the most outstanding athletes at the ATHENS 2004 Paralympic Games was Japanese Mayumi Narita (Swimming) with seven gold and one bronze medal. Canadian wheelchair athlete Chantal Peticlerc crowned her career by winning five gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1,500m races setting three world records. Jonas Jacobsson (SWE) was the star of the Paralympic Games in Shooting, bringing his country to the top spot of the Shooting medal table. Sweden led this medal table with six gold medals, four of which were clinched by Jacobsson. China won the first gold medal in women's Volleyball (Sitting), beating the Netherlands in a thrilling match 3:1. The first tournament for Football 5-a-Side was won by Brazil establishing itself as the best team in the world. Narrowly edging the Argentina side 3:2 in a penalty shoot-out, Brazil remained the only undefeated team in the tournament and had the best offense, scoring 14 goals in six matches.
A total of 3,103 media representatives including more than 68 broadcasters were present in Athens to cover the Games. A total of 617 hours broadcasted in 25 countries and Pan Europe from the ATHENS 2004 Paralympic Games were watched by a record number of viewers all over the world. Although the live broadcast of the Opening Ceremony coincided with the middle of the night in some parts of the world, around 10 million Chinese and 8 million Japanese enjoyed the event. Daily highlights programmes attracted millions of European viewers. German broadcaster ARD/ZDF reported that the highlights aired on Sunday 19 September, were watched by nearly 1.5 million persons. In Great Britain, the BBC attracted approximately 2 million viewers for their first Sunday Paralympic programme, whereas 634,000 persons watched the summary broadcast in Spain on 19 September. Italian television reported an average of 600,000 viewers for their daily broadcasts of Paralympic highlights. This development confirms that there has been a good growth in media interest for the Paralympic Games since the Sydney 2000 Paralympics.
A total of 705 torchbearers carried the Paralympic flame 410km through 54 municipalities of Greece. Around 850,000 tickets were sold, far surpassing the original expectations (400,000 tickets) of the ATHENS 2004 Organising Committee. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as many sport events, eg, Swimming and Wheelchair Basketball, were sold out. The ATHENS 2004 Paralympic Games were supported by 8,863 volunteers who were handpicked from some 160,000 personal applications.
More than 250 observers from 16 future organizing committees and international sport federations took part in the ATHENS 2004 Observers Programme, which included guided visits and about 25 individual meetings with the Organizing Committee and the IPC.
A total of 680 doping tests were carried out, resulting in ten anti-doping rule violations: Two out-of-competition and eight in-competition.
A new record number of 1,829 athletes (47,67%) voted for the IPC Athletes' Committee's summer representative candidates during the Games. The newly elected members include Robert Balk (USA), Konstantinos Fykas (GRE), Beatrice Hess (FRA), Ljiljana Ljubisic (CAN), Rutger Sturkenboom (NED) and Ana Garcia-Arcicollar Vallejo (ESP).
At the Closing Ceremony, the new logo of the IPC was unveiled to the world as the Paralympic flag with the three "agitos" was raised in the stadium. IPC President Phil Craven handed over the Paralympic flag with the new IPC symbol to the Vice-Mayor of, Mr. Liu Jingmin.