ATHENS 2004 PARALYMPIC GAMES
Athens 2004 began with a colourful and spectacular Opening Ceremony and concluded with the revealing of a new IPC logo.
The Athens 2004 Paralympic Games attracted 3,808 Para athletes (2,643 men and 1,165 women) from 135 countries. They competed in 519 medal events across 19 sports as China topped the medals table for the first time in their history.
Two sports – judo and women’s sitting volleyball – were part of the sport programme for the first time and 17 NPCs made their Paralympic debut. Para athletes broke 304 world and 448 Paralympic records.
A total of 850,000 spectators attended the Games while a cumulative audience of 1.85 billion watched on television.
With the addition of judo and sitting volleyball for women and football 5-a-side for men, a total of 19 sporting events made up the 2004 Games; archery, Para athletics, boccia, cycling, equestrian, football 5-a-side, football 7-a-side, goalball, judo, Para powerlifting, sailing, shooting Para sport, Para swimming, table tennis, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.
A total of 705 torchbearers carried the Paralympic flame 410 km through 45 municipalities of Greece.
The Athens 2004 Paralympics Opening Ceremony honoured Paralympic athletes by calling upon the energy of universal elements and drawing upon the strength for life.
Although the live broadcast of the Ceremony coincided with the middle of the night in some parts of the world, around 10 million Chinese and eight million Japanese citizens enjoyed the event.
The 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens were a precursor to the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, as China dominated both the gold medal and overall medal standings. Great Britain finished with the second highest number of golds, while Australia had the second highest medal tally overall.
Japanese swimmer Mayumi Narita took home seven gold medals and a bronze medal.
Canadian wheelchair racer Chantal Peticlerc took home five gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1,500m races, setting three world records in the process.
Jonas Jacobsson of Sweden brought his country to the top of the shooting medal table, claiming four of his nation’s six gold medals in the sport.
China won the first gold medal in women’s sitting volleyball, defeating Netherlands 3-1 in a thrilling final match.
Brazil established itself as the team to beat in football 5-a-side, narrowly beating Argentina, 3-2, in a penalty shootout in the sports first final match at the Paralympic Games.
Brazil was the only squad that went undefeated in the tournament, as it notched 14 goals in just six matches.
ATTENDANCE AND COVERAGE
A total of 3,103 media representatives were present in Athens to cover the Games, as a total of 617 hours were broadcast in 25 countries.
German broadcasters ARD/ZDF reported that the highlights aired on 19 September were viewed by nearly 1.5 million people. In Great Britain, the BBC attracted almost 2 million viewers for its first Sunday Paralympic Programme, while 634,000 people watched the summary broadcast in Spain on 19 September.
In addition to the large amount of television viewers and attendance at the Games, more than 250 observers from 16 future Organising Committees and International Sport Federations took part in the Athens 2004 Observers Programme. It included guided visits and 25 meetings with the Organising Committee and the IPC.
At the Closing Ceremony of the Games, the IPC’s new logo was unveiled to the world and was raised in the stadium. IPC President Sir Phillip Craven then handed over the Paralympic flag with the new IPC symbol to the Vice Mayor of Beijing, Liu Jingmin.