XII Paralympic Games
Host cityAthens, Greece
MottoGreat Athletes. Great Performances.
(Greek: Μεγάλοι Αθλητές. Μεγάλες Επιδόσεις.)
Events517 in 19 sports
Opening17 September
Closing28 September
Opened by
Georgios Toptsis
StadiumOlympic Stadium
2004 Summer Olympics

The 2004 Summer Paralympics (Greek: Θερινοί Παραολυμπιακοί Αγώνες 2004), the 12th Summer Paralympic Games, were a major international multi-sport event for athletes with disabilities governed by the International Paralympic Committee, held in Athens, Greece from 17 to 28 September 2004. 3,808 athletes (2,643 Men and 1,165 Women) from 136 countries participated. During these games 304 World Records were broken with 448 Paralympic Games Records being broken across 19 different sports.[1] 8,863 volunteers worked along the Organizing Committee.[2] [3]

Four new events were introduced to the Paralympics in Athens; 5-a-side football for the blind, quads wheelchair tennis, and women's competitions in judo and sitting volleyball. Following a scandal at the 2000 Summer Paralympics, in which the Spanish intellectually-disabled basketball team was stripped of their gold medal after it was found that multiple players had not met the eligibility requirements, ID-class events were suspended.[4][5]

It was also the last time that the old Paralympic symbol was used. The new Paralympic symbol was introduced in 2006.

Host City Bid Process

Main article: Bids for the 1996 Summer Olympics

Main article: Bids for the 2004 Summer Olympics

Athens was chosen as the host city during the 106th IOC Session held in Lausanne, Switzerland on 5 September 1997. The Greek capital had lost its bid to organize the 1996 Summer Olympics to the American city of Atlanta nearly seven years before, during the 96th IOC Session in Tokyo, Japan on 18 September 1990. Under the direction of Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, Athens pursued another bid, this time for the right to host the Summer Olympics in 2004. The success of Athens in securing the 2004 Games was based largely on the bid's appeal to human values,the history of the Games from the ancient to modern periods and the emphasis that Athens is placed at the pivotal role that Greece and Athens could play in promoting the Modern Olympism and the Olympic Movement.[6] Unlike the 1996 bid committee that was seen arrogant when the city was bidding,the 2004 bid was lauded for its low scale,humility,honest and earnestness, its focused message, and a more real e a detailed bid concept.[7] Unlike,nine years before where concerns and criticisms are raised during the unsuccessful 1996 bid – primarily when was talked in critical subjects about the city's infrastructural readiness, its air pollution, its budget and politicization of the Games events and their preparations.[8] Along a successful organization of another events as the 1991 Mediterranean Games,the 1994 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship,1994 World Fencing Championships and the successful 1997 World Championships in Athletics,one month before the Olympic host city election was crucial in allaying lingering fears and concerns among the sporting community and some IOC members about the Greek ability to host international sporting events.[9] Another factor that contributed to the Greek capital's selection was a growing sentiment among some IOC members to restore some original values of the Olympics to the Modern Games, a component which they felt was lost during the 1996 Summer Olympics.[10]

New rules applied to the Paralympics

This was the last edition of the Summer Paralympics in which cities could make the decision whether or not to host the Games. As they were still seen as an optional and second-tier event. International Olympic Committee (IOC) was motivated after the high number of problems concerning the 1996 Summer Paralympics held in Atlanta with a different organization started a strategic partnership with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and demanded from all 11 applicant cities their plans regarding the Paralympics for the first time. All the 11 bidding cities agreed to accept these requirements, but only three proposed different organizations.[11]

Medal count

Main article: 2004 Summer Paralympics medal table

A total of 1567 medals were awarded during the Athens games: 519 gold, 516 silver, and 532 bronze. China topped the medal count for the first time with more gold medals, more silver medals, and more medals overall than any other nation. In the table below, the ranking sorts by the number of gold medals earned by a nation (in this context a nation is an entity represented by a National Paralympic Committee).

1 China634632141
2 Great Britain35302994
3 Canada28192572
4 United States27223988
5 Australia263936101
6 Ukraine24121955
7 Spain20272471
8 Germany19283178
9 France18263074
10 Japan17172054
Totals (10 entries)277266285828

Among the top individual medal winners was Mayumi Narita of Japan, who took seven golds and one bronze medal in swimming, setting six world records in the process and bringing her overall Paralympic gold medal total to fifteen. Chantal Petitclerc of Canada won five golds and set three world records in wheelchair racing, while Swedish shooter Jonas Jacobsson took four gold medals.[12] France's Béatrice Hess won her nineteenth and twentieth Paralympic gold medals in swimming. Swimmer Trischa Zorn of the United States won just one medal, a bronze, but it was her 55th ever Paralympic medal. She retained her position as the most successful Paralympian of all times.[13]

Opening ceremony

From the Paralympics opening ceremony

The opening ceremony for the 2004 Summer Paralympics took place on 17 September 2004. The show started with children passing on knowledge and raising their lights to the sky. This was a reference to Hippocrates, who transferred knowledge for their disciples. A 26-meter tall plane tree (with more than 195,000 leaves) symbolising life stood in the middle of the arena. The opening ceremony also featured a performance with human drama, with light and with music, in an allegory about obstacles and limits. The Parade of Delegations was accompanied by the music of French composers Yves Stepping and Jean Christophe. The music told the legend of Hephaestos, god of fire and son of Zeus and Hera. An athlete from Turkmenistan propelled himself around the stadium by doing somersaults. Greece, the home team, received a strong cheer. After that, fireworks erupted at the stadium. There were 150 local support staff involved and 400 volunteers. The children were from ages 8 to 17, coming from Australia, France, Spain, Greece and Germany.

Philip Craven, the President of the International Paralympic Committee, was accompanied by the head of the organizing committee Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who told the athletes and the audience: "The Olympic flame illuminates athletes. Many of you will leave Athens with medals, but all of you will leave as champions." Phil Craven quoted Democritus in his speech: "Two thousand years ago, Democritus said "To win oneself is the first and best of all victories." This holds true for all athletes, but especially for Paralympians. Recognising and cultivating your unique abilities and mastering challenges – you set standards and give expression for many people, young and old, around the world." The Games were officially declared opened by the President of the Hellenic Republic Konstantinos Stephanopoulos in Greek, accompanied by the Adjutant to the President of the Hellenic Republic Army Lieutenant Colonel Dimitrios Reskos.

"Κηρύσσω την έναρξη των Παραολυμπιακών Αγώνων της Αθήνας." – "I declare opening of the Athens Paralympic Games."

— Constantinos Stephanopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic

The paralympic flame was lit by Georgios Toptsis, a pioneer athlete in Greece. Toptsis was won three medals (one silver and two bronze) between the 1988 and 1996 Games.

Closing ceremony

The closing ceremony for the 2004 Summer Paralympics took place on 28 September 2004. The traditional cultural display was removed from the ceremony as a mark of respect for the deaths of seven teenagers from Farkadona, travelling to Athens, whose bus collided with a truck near the town of Kamena Vourla.[14][15]

"The Athens Olympics Organising Committee [ATHOC] has decided to cancel the closing ceremony of the 12th Athens Paralympics as initially planned and scheduled because of the tragic accident that cost the life of pupils. The artistic and entertainment part of the ceremony will not take place." (official statement)[15]

Flags were flown at half mast and a minute's silence was observed. In contrast with the formal nature of the opening ceremony, the athletes entered the stadium for the final time as a collective. This was followed by official matters, including the handover to Beijing, hosts of the 2008 Summer Paralympics, and a cultural presentation by the delegation (which included a presentation of the new Paralympic "agitos" emblem). A procession of young people then made their way to join the athletes in the centre of the stadium carrying paper lanterns, before the Paralympic flame was extinguished.[16]


In the following calendar for the 2004 Summer Paralympics, each blue box represents an event competition. The yellow boxes represent days during which medal-awarding finals for a sport were held. The number in each yellow box represents the number of finals that were contested on that day.The dots inside each box indicate that there was competition that day.[17]

Legend for colors in events table below
 ●  Opening ceremony      Event competitions      Event finals  ●  Closing ceremony
Competition events by sport and day
September Fri
Ceremonies OC CC
Archery 5 2 7
Athletics 22 21 21 22 18 17 26 24 23 194
Boccia 4 3 7
Cycling Track 3 4 4 2 3 16
Cycling Road 3 12 15
Equestrian 2 2 2 2 1 9
Football 5-a-side 1 1
Football 7-a-side 1 1
Goalball 2 2
Judo 4 4 5 13
Powerlifting 3 4 2 3 4 2 2 20
Sailing 2 2
Shooting 2 2 2 2 2 2 12
Sitting volleyball 2 2
Swimming 19 20 20 19 13 18 18 29 18 166
Table tennis 17 11 28
Wheelchair basketball 2 2
Wheelchair fencing 4 2 4 2 2 1 15
Wheelchair rugby 1 1
Wheelchair tennis 1 3 2 6
Total 0 9 51 59 70 54 41 49 58 64 70 6 517

Media coverage controversies

Although the Paralympic Games were broadcast to around 1.6 billion viewers throughout 49 countries,[18] some controversy was caused when no American television network stayed to broadcast the event.[19] This resulted in some US viewers having to wait almost 2 months until the coverage was broadcast, compared with live feeds in several other countries.[20]

Paralympic Media Awards

The BBC won the best broadcaster award.[21]

Sports and impairment groups

The Swedish men's goalball team at the 2004 Paralympic Games; the team won a silver medal

Following a scandal at the 2000 Summer Paralympics, in which the Spanish intellectually-disabled basketball team was stripped of their gold medal after it was found that multiple players had not met the eligibility requirements, ID-class events were suspended, in 2001, the IPC decided to remove events for the intellectually disabled and make several changes to other classifications of different events. In addition, the IPC also expanded the number of events for women in various sports, replacing the standing volleyball tournament with the female sitting volleyball another move was realization of women's events in judo and the quads events in wheelchair judo. A new team event was also added in the program: 5-a-side football for the blind. In total, 43 events were dropped from the program and 16 were included and 5 were replaced.As a result, 32 fewer finals were held than Sydney, totaling 519 finals.[4][5]

Results for individual events can be found on the relevant page.


In total 15 venues were used at the 2004 Summer Olympics.[22]

Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA)

Hellinikon Olympic Complex (HOK)

Faliro Coastal Zone Olympic Complex


Other Venues

Participating nations

Athletes from 135 National Paralympic Committees competed in the Athens 2004 Paralympics.[23] 12 National Paralympic Committees made their dèbut at the Paralympic Games:Bangladesh, Botswana, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Ghana, Guinea, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Suriname, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan competed for the first time.Five National Paralympic Committees that sent delegations to Sydney 2000 did not send delegation to Athens for various reasons and they were: Laos, Madagascar, Mali, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu. In Athens there was also no group of independent or neutral athletes.

See also


  1. ^ "Sydney 2000". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Athens 2004 Paralympics - Ceremonies, Medals, Torch Relay". www.paralympic.org. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Athens 2004". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Intellectual disability ban ends". BBC Sport. 21 November 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Paralympics set to alter entry policy". BBC News. 13 September 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  6. ^ Weisman, Steven R. (19 September 1990). "Atlanta Selected Over Athens for 1996 Olympics". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  7. ^ Rowbottom, Mike (6 September 1997). "Athens wins 2004 Olympics". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 1 May 2022. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  8. ^ Longman, Jere (6 September 1997). "Athens Wins a Vote for Tradition, and the 2004 Olympics". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  9. ^ Longman, Jere (3 August 1997). "Athens Pins Olympic Bid to World Meet". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  10. ^ Anderson, Dave (7 September 1997). "Athens Can Thank Atlanta for 2004 Games". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  11. ^ "Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Summer Games". Stoke Mandeville Paralympic Heritage. 2019. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  12. ^ "Athens 2004 – General Information". International Paralympic Committee. 2008. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  13. ^ "Times Square Honors Athletes", International Paralympic Committee, January 5, 2005
  14. ^ Jones, Sam (28 September 2004). "Seven children die in Paralympics bus crash". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  15. ^ a b "Games finale cut after bus deaths". BBC News. 27 September 2004. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  16. ^ "Games finale cut after bus deaths", BBC News Online, 2004-09-27
  17. ^ "Paralympic Games Schedule - Results". Athens 2004 Official Website. Archived from the original on 18 March 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  18. ^ "International Paralympic Committee Annual report 2004" Archived 2011-09-02 at the Wayback Machine, IPC
  19. ^ "Athens advance Paralympics", BBC News Online, 2004-09-24
  20. ^ "US TV Coverage of the Paralympics – starts November ...", paralympics.com, 2004-09-20
  21. ^ "BBC given top Paralympic honour". BBC. 22 November 2005.
  22. ^ "The Experience". Athens 2004 Olympic and Paralympics Organizing Committee. 2004. Archived from the original on 18 March 2006. Retrieved 25 October 2016.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  23. ^ "Athens 2004 Paralympics". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
Preceded bySydney Summer Paralympics Athens XII Paralympic Summer Games (2004) Succeeded byBeijing