|China's national flag is hoisted at the
athletes' village of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games before receiving
a blessing from former International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio
The flag-raising ceremony of the Chinese
delegation to the 2004 Athens Olympics
was truly a party with singing, dancing, music and a surprise
visit from former International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch.
Around 200 athletes, coaches and officials headed by Chinese Olympic Committee (COC)
President Yuan Weimin attended the ceremony held in the Olympic Village,
signalling that one of the biggest sporting nations in the Games has
started going for gold.
The ceremony started with a traditional Greek dance accompanied by
Ioannis Manos, manager of the village, then announced the raising of
"It's so thrilling to see
the flag of my nation raised here because it means another Olympic
campaign has started," said Le Maosheng, Chinese weightlifting world
"I feel filled with power and I think that I am now ready for the
"I felt the greatest honour to attend this ceremony because China is a
big country and Beijing will be the next Olympic city," said Iraklis
Grous, a Greek volunteer who raised the Chinese flag.
"I am a little bit scared because I know how important it is," said the
20-year-old who returned from the United States, where he studies.
China is sending a 633-member delegation to the games including 407
athletes, the biggest in history. It is going for at least 20 gold medals,
trying to keep its third place on the medals table.
"Now everything is fine with the delegation and we have had a good
reception here," said COC Vice-President He Huixian.
"There will be many difficulties ahead, but we are confident that we
will fulfill our goal."
The abrupt appearance of
Samaranch just before the flag was raised caused a stir at the ceremony.
The former IOC president was then applauded by the Chinese delegation.
"I heard today is the flag-raising ceremony for China and that's why I
came here," said Samaranch.
He believed that the delegation would be very successful in Athens,
saying that its brilliant show here will ensure a more successful
achievement four years later on home soil during the 2008 Beijing Games.
"Four years later you will have the Olympics and you must achieve a
good result," he said.
Asked how many golds he expects Chinese to win, he said: "I don't know,
but I think it should be many, many."
Apart from Beijing, he also gave praise to the Athens Olympic
organizers who have been criticized for their behind-schedule
"For the Games, I think so far so good," he said. "The work is doing
very well and if they keep going like that, it will be a successful
The Games will start on August 13. A record figure of 11,000 athletes
and 5,500 team officials from 202 national Olympic committees are participating in the Games, alongside more
than 45,000 volunteers and 21,500 media representatives.