Athens 2004: An Olympic homecoming

05 Nov 2019
Athens 2004 Legacy

The Olympic Games Athens 2004 were considered a ‘homecoming’, given that Greece was the birthplace of the ancient Olympiad and the host of the inaugural Olympic Games of the modern era in 1896. The key legacies of this edition of the Games covered the areas of education, tourism, and urban and sporting infrastructure.

2004 / Kishimoto/IOC / NAKAMURA, Hiroyuki - All rights reserved | Opening ceremony of the Olympic Games Athens 2004 in the Olympic Stadium.

Athens 2004 created several educational legacies, focused around the Olympic values and event management.

More than 100 international scholars and researchers from various fields collaborated to compile an education programme that was implemented in Greek schools prior to the Olympic Games, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. The programme put into practice an interdisciplinary approach to education, and a method of connecting education to sport.

During the Olympic Games, an Olympic Youth Camp was organised, allowing children from 182 National Olympic Committees to discover international cultures and traditions, including Greek ones.

The Olympic Games also created lasting benefits for higher education in Greece, with the establishment of an Olympic-focused Master’s degree, which continues to be taught to this day.

Tourism and urban infrastructure

Improvements to the city’s tourism capabilities in the lead-up to Athens 2004 proved to be beneficial for the city in the long run. Revamped hotels, cultural sites and open areas reinvigorated Athens, boosting tourism – a key contributor to Greece’s national revenue. In 2004, tourism accounted for 16 per cent of the country’s GDP, a contribution which rose to 19 per cent in 2017.

The Olympic Games helped to accelerate key infrastructure programmes in Athens, which invested in re-modelling and developing three areas of the city: the Phaleron Coastal Zone, the Athens Olympic Sports Complex and the Hellinikon Complex.

To improve traffic flow, public transport and road networks connecting Athens Olympic venues and the international airport were upgraded.

Sports venues

Out of the 22 new sports venues built for the Olympic Games Athens 2004, 14 remain in use. The Galatsi Olympic Hall, for example, hosts sports like basketball and rhythmic gymnastics, art classes, music concerts, television sets and governmental offices. The Agios Kosmas sailing centre functions as a private marina, while the International Broadcasting Centre was repurposed into one of the most popular shopping malls in Athens. Additionally, the Olympic and media villages have been sold off as private residencies, and the Phaleron Sports Pavilion has become a convention centre, hosting trade shows and music concerts. Re-built for the Games, the Karaiskaki Stadium is the home of Greece’s most decorated football club, Olympiacos.

Eight Olympic venues have not fared well, particularly in the Hellinikon Complex, which was built within the wider redevelopment area of the former Athens airport in the south of the city. Failure to move forward with the overall development project has meant that – aside from the sporadic use of the Indoor Fencing Hall – the other five venues in this complex remain unused. Three other venues located in different areas of the city also remain unused, namely the Phaleron Olympic Beach Volleyball stadium, the Nikaia Weightlifting Hall and the Goudi Olympic Complex, which was used as a theatre for a number of years after the Games.


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