Legacy of the Games
The 2004 Games marked the first time since 1996 that all National Olympic Committees in existence were represented at the Olympic Games. Since 1996 two new National Olympic Committees had been created, Kiribati and Timor-Leste, and Afghanistan also competed, having been missing from the previous Games in 2000. The total number of participating nations therefore increased from 199 to 202 in 2004.
A new design was introduced at these Games for the front of the medals, replacing a design which had been used since 1928. This allowed the rectification of the long-standing mistake of a Roman colosseum rather than a Greek stadium being depicted on the design. The new design features the Panathenaiko Stadium, used for the 1896 Games.
Athens’ success in being awarded the 2004 Olympic Games led to many infrastructure improvements which have revolutionised the tourist experience of the city. The city’s international airport was established, serving as Greece’s main gateway by air. The metro system was expanded and two additional rail systems were added – the ‘Tram’, a metropolitan light rail system and the ‘Proastiakos’, a new suburban railway linking suburban towns and the airport to the city of Athens; a new toll motorway was built, called the ‘Attiki Odos’, which encircles the city; a number of streets linking the city’s main historic tourist sites were converted into pedestrianised walkways. Since these innovations were put in place for the 2004 Olympic Games further expansions to the metro, tram, rail and motorway networks and the airport have taken place.
Some of the most modern sporting venues in the world at the time were built to host the 2004 Olympic Games. The Greek government created a corporation to oversee the management and development of these facilities post-Games, although financial problems have meant that many conversion schemes have stalled.