Athens wins 2004 Olympics

Olympic Games

Athens, denied the chance to re-stage the Olympics in the centenary year of 1996, was awarded the 2004 GAmes last night .

The Greek capital saw off the challenge of four other bidding cities, including the pre-vote favourite Rome, by a margin of 25 votes. The last time any city bettered that margin was when Berlin beat Barcelona to the 1936 Games by 43 votes to 16. Since then, the International Olympic Committee has grown to 107 members, and the secret ballot taken in Lausanne awarded Athens the Games ahead of Rome by 66 votes to 41. Cape Town, Stockholm and Buenos Aires all fell in earlier rounds.

Six years ago the Greeks sought the 1996 Games with a bid which was guilty of hubris. They were outflanked by the energetic efforts of Atlanta.

But after the widely felt weaknesses of Atlanta's effort last year, notably its excess of commercialism, the opportunity was there for Athens , which hosted the first modern Games of 1896, to profit from the idea of returning the Olympic Movment to its roots. This they did.

"The extra vaule of the Greek tradition made the difference," said Jacques Rogge, an IOC member.

Dick Pound, IOC executive board member, added: "They corrected their mistakes. They were totally focussed on the quality of the bid rather than demanding the Games as a right."

Craig Reedie, one of Britain's two IOC members, commented: "There is a natural sympathy for Greece. If you go with your heart, rather than your head, you vote for Athens."

The trauma of 1991 left Greeks weeping on the streets. Last night the tears flowed in the Piazza Navona, where Romans watched the voting on live television.

Not every Roman was dismayed. "I am absolutely delighted," said Cristiano Brughitta, spokesman for the Campaign against the 2004 Games in Rome. "I am just pleased to have spared our town this huge disaster."

The factors presenting a problem for Athens were the same which faced Rome - difficulties with transport, pollution and accommodation.

Athens has planned to get round some of these difficulties by building a new Metro system and 65 extra miles of motorway which will divert traffic away from the crowded city centre towards the Olympic facilities already largely existent to the north of the city.

Each of the five bids were supported in Lausanne by high-profile personalities. Buenos Aires was backed by the Argentine president, Carlos Menem; Rome had Luciano Pavarotti in their line-up; Stockholm had Bjorn Borg.

Gianna Angelapoulos-Daskalaki, the exotic and impressive president of the Athens bid, had travelled the world to promote the claims of her native city. Angelapoulos, who has a home in Chelsea and a wealthy industrialist husband, has been described as a cross between Melina Mercouri and Mrs Thatcher. But her charm was wasted on Primo Nebiolo, the president of the Rome bid, when the two met at last month's world athletics championships in Athens.

Nebiolo, president also of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, refused to shake hands and turned away. His subsequent statement that the Greeks were incapable of organising major sporting events was not supported by the facts - the IAAF world championships were very well organised this year.

As the IOC members witnessed final presentations yesterday from each of the five bidders in Room 280 of the Palais de Beaulieu, several questions hung in the air.

Would Nebiolo's criticisms prove counter-productive for Rome? Would the sequence of bomb attacks in Sweden blow a hole in Stockholm's challenge? How strong was the guilt over Athens? And what emotional charge would be carried in the personal appeal by South Africa's President, Nelson Mandela?

The result was definitive. Nebiolo complained afterwards that Rome had suffered through an accord worked out on Thursday night between Cape Town and Athens, whereby the Greek city received support this time round in exchange for votes supporting Cape Town with its expected bid for the 2008 Games. After Cape Town had gone out in the penultimate round with 20 votes, Athens picked up 14 of them in the final count.

The result also means Britain, which is committed to bidding for an Olympics in London in the near future, will almost certainly go for the 2012 Games rather than those of 2008, given that the event is not likely to be hosted on consecutive occasions by a European city.

Simon Clegg, the chief executive of the British Olympic Association, said: "We will hit them once with a bloody impressive bid," he said.

Why there is no catching Africa's runners, page 23

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Research Executive - Quantitative/Qualitative

£27000 - £31000 Per Annum Excellent Benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

ETL Developer / Consultant

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week