Host City: Athina, Greece
Date Started: August 14, 2004
Date Finished: August 29, 2004
Participants: 328 (179 men and 149 women) from 16 countries
Youngest Participant: Wang Shasha (17 years, 220 days)
Oldest Participant: Andrey Lavrov (42 years, 142 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 89 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): 6 countries with 1 medal
The 2004 handball matches were held at the Kleisto Gipedo, or the Olympic Indoor Arena, at the Hellinikon Olympic Complex; and at the Kleisto Gymnastirio Falirou, or the Faliro Sports Pavilion Arena, at the Faliro Coastal Zone Olympic Complex, with the final rounds held at the Olympic Indoor Arena. The Faliro Sports Pavilion Arena was finished in December 2003, and had seating for 5,800 spectators during the Athina Olympics. It was built in Palaio Faliro, a seaside town just south of Athina. It now serves as a site for entertainment and music concerts. The Olympic Indoor Arena was part of the Hellinikon Olympic Complex which was built on the former site of the Athina International Airport. Since the 2004 Olympics it has served as the home arena for several teams in the Greek Basketball League.
The format for men was two groups of six teams each that played a round-robin tournament to advance four teams from each group to the single-elimination brackets, beginning with the quarter-finals. The women had a similar format, but with only 10 teams competing, the round-robin groups had only five teams each.
The 12 men’s teams qualified for the 2004 Olympics as follows – Greece as the host nation; the top seven teams from the 2003 World Championships (Croatia, Germany, France, Spain, Russia, Hungary, Iceland); the top team from 2004 European Championships, not otherwise qualified (Slovenia, which finished second); Brazil as the 2003 Pan American Games Champion; and the winners of the 2003 Asian and African Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (Korea [South], Egypt, respectively).
The 10 women’s teams qualified for the 2004 Olympics as follows – Greece as the host nation; the top five teams from the 2003 World Championships (France, Hungary, Korea [South], Ukraine, Spain); the 2003 European Champion (Denmark); Brazil as the 2003 Pan American Games Champion; and the winners of the 2003 Asian and African Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (China, Angola, respectively).
In the men’s tournament the final came down to a re-play of the 2003 World Championships, with Croatia defeating Germany for the gold medal. Among the women, Denmark had won the gold medal in 1996 and 2000 but was not favored in Athina. However, they came through to win their third consecutive gold medal by defeating Korea in the final, 38-36.