Rating records soar as the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games are watched around the world

The Athens 2004 Paralympic Games got underway on 17th September with a spectacular Opening Ceremony at the Olympic stadium.  During the Games, 73 of the 136 competing nations won at least one medal and several of these countries secured their first medal in Paralympic Games history.  Seventeen countries were in fact competing in their first Paralympics ever.

The Paralympic Village in Athens housed 3,806 athletes during the Games.  A total of 1,160 women (31% of the total number of athletes) competed at the Games with female athletes competing in Judo and Volleyball for the first time.  An extremely high standard of sporting performance in 19 sports resulted in 304 new world records and 448 new Paralympic records.

China topped the medal table in Athens by taking 63 gold medals. Great Britain finished second with 35 gold medals while Canada was third with 28 gold medals.

Perhaps the most outstanding athlete at the Athens 2004 Games was swimmer Japanese Mayumi Narita who claimed an astonishing seven gold medals and one bronze.  Canadian wheelchair athlete Chantal Peticlerc also had a fantastic Games by winning five gold medals in the 100 metre, 200 metre, 400 metre, 800 metre and 1,500 metre races while setting three world records.

A total of 3,103 media representatives (including more than 68 broadcasters) were present in Athens to cover the Games while a total of 617 hours were broadcast in 25 countries.

Although the live broadcast of the Opening Ceremony coincided with the middle of the night in some parts of the world, around 10 million Chinese and 8 million Japanese enjoyed the event live.  Daily highlights of the Games attracted millions of European viewers and in Great Britain the BBC gained approximately 2 million viewers for their first Sunday Paralympic program.  This development confirmed that there has been a strong growth in media interest for the Paralympic Games since the Sydney 2000 Paralympics.

The Opening and Closing Ceremonies as well as many sport events were sold out and the Games were supported by 8,863 volunteers who were handpicked from some 160,000 personal applications.

At the Closing Ceremony in the Olympic Stadium, the new logo of the IPC was unveiled to the world as the Paralympic flag with the three "agitos" was raised in the stadium.  IPC President Philip Craven handed over the Paralympic flag with the new IPC symbol to the Vice-Mayor of Beijing, Mr. Liu Jingmin.

Date Games were held: September 17-28

Number of nations represented: 136

Number of competitors: 3,806

Number of medals awarded: 1,567