Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games: The first Olympic Games took place in Olympia in 776 BC. Their importance was mainly related to religion and the contests used to do sacrifices and ceremonies to honor Zeus, the king and father of the Gods, and King Pelops, who was said to be the founder of the Games. As the competition gained popularity, the number of events increased to twenty, and the celebration lasted several days. The winners were greatly admired, represented in statues and glorified in poems.
Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I abolished the Olympic Games in 393 AD, as they were considered an idolatrous custom at the time. The first man who showed interest in reviving the Olympic Games was the Greek writer Dimitrios Vikelas at the end of the 19th century. He and Pierre de Coubertin, a French historian, managed to revive the Olympic Games and the first modern Olympic Games. They were held at the Kallimarmaro Stadium in 1896 and attracted worldwide attention.
Today, the Olympic Games are an international sports event divided into two periods - summer and winter. Each Summer and Winter Olympiad takes place every four years. In 2004, the Greeks experienced the return of this beloved celebration once again in their country since Athens was chosen to organize the Summer Olympic Games, which took place from August 13 to August 29. This fact provoked a great sense of pride in the Athenians and the rest of the Greeks.
The Olympic Stadium was designed for the opening and closing ceremonies. High telecommunication technology was provided to broadcast the event successfully. In fact, about 4 billion people had access to television coverage. Regarding the official mascots, siblings Athena and Phoebus were selected. The female mascot was named after the goddess of wisdom, Athena. The male mascot was named after her brother; Phoebus is an alternative name of Apollo and translates into "the shining god" as he was the god of the light and sun, except for music, poetry and divination. Their appearance was based on some clay statues displayed at the National Archaeological Museum.
The Opening Ceremony counted on performances of world-known artists, such as DJ Tiesto and Bjork. Then, the contestants entered the stadium in alphabet order according to the Greek alphabet. There were 10,625 athletes from 201 different nations, all with their banners. The event finished with the entrance of the Olympic Flame into the Stadium, after traveling all around Greece and almost all countries.
Apart from the regular sports, the Athens Olympic Games 2004 also included a wheelchair race as a demonstration sport. That was a joint between the Olympics and the Paralympics Games, a multi-sport event for athletes with physical, mental and sensory disabilities. It was the first time that a Paralympic competition occurred within the Olympics. The 2004 Summer Paralympics were also held in Athens, from September 20th to 28th.
Moreover, another important event of these Games was that the women's discus throwing was held in the Ancient Stadium of Olympia, which had been properly set for hosting this race without causing any damage to the valuable historical monuments of the area.
The Closing Ceremony gathered 70,000 spectators in the Kallimarmaro. It counted on the performances of various Greek singers and featured traditional Greek dance performances. The idea was to show the entire world the Greek culture and their pride to have hosted the Olympic Games back in their birthland.