Athens, June 2018

Athens, June 2018

Athens 2004 Olympic Games

click to listen toVangelis' Chariots of Fire

"Every athlete's victory, Greek or not, is an equal honor for Greece and should be greeted with enthusiasm" ...Dimitrios Vikellas

Αρχαίον πνευμ' αθάνατον, αγνέ πατέρα
Τού ωραίου, τού μεγάλου και τού αληθινού, Κατέβα φανερώσου και άστραψε εδω πέρα Στη δόξα της δικής σου τής γής και τ' ουρανού.

Στό δρόμο και στο πάλαιμα και στο λιθάρι
Στών ευγενών αγώνων λάμψε την ορμή
Καί με τ' αμάραντο στεφάνωσε κλωνάρι
Και σιδερένιο πλάσε κι άξιο κορμί.
Κάμποι, βουνά καί πέλαγα φέγγουν μαζί σου, Σάν ένας λευκοπόρφυρος μέγας ναός
Καί τρέχει στον ναόν εδώ προσκυνητής σου, Αρχαίον πνεύμ' αθάνατον, κάθε λαός.


The Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics was held on August 13,2004 at the Olympic Stadium in Maroussi, Greece, a suburb of Athens. The concept was the work of choreographer and director Dimitri Papaioannou, a modern dance artist.
72,000 spectators attended the event, with approximately 15,000 athletes from 202 countries participating in the ceremony as well. An estimated 4.5 billion people watched it worldwide on television, though many of them watched it on a tape delay due to large time differences between Greece and other nations. It marked the first-ever international broadcast of high definition television, undertaken by NBC and the Japanese television station NHK. 
The Opening Ceremony began with a twenty-eight second countdown — one second per Olympics held since Athens last hosted — paced by the sounds of an amplified heartbeat. As the countdown was completed, fireworksrumbled and illuminated the skies overhead as fire erupted from a reflecting pool in the middle of the stadium creating a burning image of the Olympic rings. The Opening Ceremony was a pageantry of traditional Greek culture and history harkening back to itsmythological beginnings, and viewed through the progression of Greek art. The dramatic music that accompanied the performances often combined drumming with the traditionally Greek sound of bouzoukia. 
The program began as a young Greek boy sailed into the stadium on a giant paper boat waving the host nation's flag, followed by the appearance of various characters from ancient Greek myths. A centaur — whose human and animal parts supposedly symbolize the duality of spirit and body — threw a spear of light into the center of the stadium, from which a giant statue that exemplified Cycladicart (and thus one of the first depictions of the human form in Greek art) emerged. With the use of lasers, geometrical shapes and other scientific images (such as a stylistic representation of the solar system) were displayed on the figure's face. The statue then broke into pieces that floated away, and from within it emerged a smaller statue of a later and more naturalistic artistic style, which in turn also broke apart. At the end of this sequence, a man was seen balancing on a slowly rotating cube. Subsequently,Eros, the Greek god of love, was introduced flying over a pair of lovers frolicking in the pool of water located in the center of the stadium. Throughout the rest of the scenes from history and mythology, the actor portraying Eros flew over the parade, occasionally touching or stepping on the floats moving beneath him. 

The pageantry following the statues and the introduction of Eros continued to portray scenes that showed the sequence of Greek civilisation through its art. The scenes started with theMinoan civilisation, with scenes of bull-jumping, dolphins, and other elements that harkened back to the images in the frescoes of Phaestos. The scenes then proceeded to the more stark art of the Mycenean civilisation, followed by representations of theClassical period. A chariot carrying an actor portraying Alexander the Great introduced images from the Hellenistic period, which in turn were followed by representations ofByzantine art, the Greek War of Independence, and lastly of 20th century elements of Greek culture, such as the popular shadow-theatre figure Karagiozis, who is sometimes said to be a humorous and self-deprecating depiction (and parody) of Greek mentality.At the end of the parade, "Eros" lowered enough to help a woman remove her outer garment. Portrayed as pregnant and with belly glowing, the woman moved into the lake of water as the stadium's lights dimmed and lasers depicted stars reflected on the water. Slowly the stars rose around the woman, and moved to form a rapidly rotatingDNA double helix, which is the basis for all life on the planet.

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Special Olympics
Greek athletes have participated privately at the Paralympic Games since 1976. From 1988 on, Greece participated with official national delegations at the Games. During these years, Greek athletes had many achievements and won many medals. At the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, Greece participated with a team of 71 people (42 athletes). The Greek Team competed in athletics, swimming, powerlifting, basketball and judo. The Greek Team in Sydney was the most successful in Greek history with the athletes winning 11 medals (four gold, four silver, three bronze).

Greece held the 33rd position in the world ranking.
Charalampos Taiganidis earned the first Paralympic medal for Greece winning the gold in the men's 100m butterfly S13 final. Fast on its heels came a Greek bronze medal won by Ioannis Kostakis in the men's 100m freestyle S3 final, with a time of 1:55.79, a new Greek record. The two athletes were both warmly congratulated on their medal-winning performances by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis. In statements after his victory, Taiganidis underlined the fantastic audience that had filled the Olympic Aquatic Centre, saying that he had not expected such a large and enthusiastic crowd. "The public proved their love for the Paralympic Games. My goal is to beat the world record. I'm in very good shape and I can do it in my next event, which is on September 26," he said. Bronze-medallist Kostakis also referred to the audience, saying it had helped him a great deal. "To win a medal in your country is amazing," he said, noting that he was now very close to the Paralympic record.
Athens 2004          GRE - Greece = 3+13+4+20+24

All photos here from:,,,,,
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