Games of the XXVIII Olympiad
13 August - 29 August 2004
The Games Come Home
In 2004 the Olympic Games returned to Greece, the home of both the ancient and the first modern Olympic Games. For the first time a record 201 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) participated in the Olympic Games and the popularity of the Games soared to new heights as 3.9 billion people had access to the television coverage compared to 3.6 billion for Sydney 2000.
The equestrian facilities at Markopoulo were extraordinary. Two stadiums were built, one housing a grass arena for Jumping and one with an all-weather arena for Dressage, offering a total of 20,000 seats. In addition there was a 20x60m covered arena, a 500m racetrack and eight training areas.
Despite the incredible facilities and the friendly atmosphere, the 2004 Olympic Games will unfortunately be remembered for the major controversies which affected the equestrian events.
German Eventing rider Bettina Hoy (Ringwood Cockatoo), who was a strong contender for gold both individually and as a member of the German team, circled after going through the start in the Jumping phase. A timing error in the Judges’ box and the decision of the Appeal Committee, subsequently overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), had a major impact on the outcome of the team and individual events.
There were also four positive cases, involving Waterford Crystal, ridden by the individual Olympic jumping champion Cian O’Connor (IRL), Goldfever 3, a member of the winning German jumping team with Ludger Beerbaum, Foxy XX, the mount of the Austrian Eventing rider Harald Riedl, and Ringwood Cockatoo ridden by Bettina Hoy.
Not surprisingly, the positive cases had a negative impact on the image of the sport. In its decisions, the FEI Judicial Committee expressed the opinion that “these cases highlighted the desirability of the FEI to revisit its entire medication policy in order to distinguish between legitimate treatment used to assist the welfare of horses before and during competition and medication which is used in order to enhance performance and gain an unfair advantage in competition or treatments which endanger the horse’s welfare.”
Games Facts & Figures
- 201 nations
- 10,625 athletes (4,329 women; 6,296 men)
- 28 sports
- 45,000 volunteers
- 21,500 media
- The shot put events were held in Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympic Games.
- The archery competitions were staged in the same Panathenaic Stadium that was used for the 1896 Olympics.
- The marathon races followed the same route as the 1896 race, beginning in Marathon and ending in Athens' Panathenaic Stadium.