Sun, Jan 02, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Top 10 International Stories: 9. Olympics return to their native Greece

By Mac William Bishop  /  STAFF REPORTER

A firework display illuminates the Olympic Stadium as the Closing Ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympics gets underway in Athens, Aug. 29.


The 28th Olympic Games were held in the Greek capital of Athens in August, amid widespread fears of security threats.

The modern Olympics, modeled after the Greek games held more than 2,000 years ago, were first held in Athens in 1896.

Having cost Greek taxpayers more than an estimated US$14 billion to host, there were many concerns that some Olympic facilities would not be completed in time for the 17-day games.

In the end, the Games were considered a success and went off without a hitch, aside from a few embarrassing episodes involving the use of drugs by various athletes.

The most notable scandal came when Greece's star sprinter, Kostas Kenteris, was barred from the Games after failing to take a drug test.

Athens played host to more than 11,099 athletes, the largest number of international athletes ever assembled. More than 202 countires took part in the Games.

As usual, the US dominated the Games in the total number of medals won, but China surprised many observers with a strong showing, earning second place for total number of medals won. Russia came in third.

Another record was broken when, for the first time, the Olympic flame traveled to every continent before wending its way to the Greek capital.

According to statistics provided by the International Olympic Committee, more than 4 billion viewers throughout the world watched the games.

Taiwan won its first gold medals ever, both in taekwondo. The two champs returned to a hero's welcome in Taipei.

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