On this day in 2004, the XXVIII Olympiad in Athens was launched with an spectacular Opening Ceremony and an Olympic Games that impressed audiences around the world.
Athens was chosen as the host city during the 106th IOC Session held in Lausanne on 5 September 1997.
The athletic festival held in Athens took place August 13–29, 2004.
Fireworks lit up the sky as some 11,000 athletes representing 202 countries marched in front of 70,000 spectators during the opening ceremony.
Athena and Phevos were the official mascots of the 2004 Summer Olympics. The mascots were named after the Greek gods Athena and Apollo, Phevos being a transcription of the modern Greek pronunciation of Phoebus, an epithet of Apollo.
The Games Return to their Birthplace
Any list of the Olympics and opening ceremonial events would be incomplete without Greece, home of the original, ancient Olympics that were reborn millennia later. This unique historical connection was used to stunning effect with a duet between drummers, one in the ancient stadium of Olympia and another in the modern day venue, connected by video link. This ancient meets modern theme was enhanced further by the use of a flaming arrow shot from the video screen into the reflecting pool, which duly burst into flames in the shape of the Olympic Rings.
As one might expect the traditional heritage and culture of Greece loomed large within the opening ceremony at this Olympic Games. Mythological figures from classic literature such as a centaur and cyclops made appearances, with the nation’s history charted from the Minoan era through to the 21st century
The ceremony ended with 1996 gold medalist windsurfer Nikolaos Kaklamanakis lighting the altar of the Olympic Stadium, marking the beginning of the 28th Olympic Games.