Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Selection Criteria for the Greek Athletes Who Participated in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Selection Criteria for the Greek Athletes Who Participated in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games

Article excerpt


The Olympic Games (OG) is the most significant sport event in the world and many athletes aspire to participate in the event, at least once in their lifetime. This is why the number of athletes who participate in the Games rose from 241 in the 1st OG of modern times (Athens, 1896), to 10.625 in the 28th OG (Athens, 2004) ( In order to maintain the complexity of the Games in manageable proportions, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to put a limit to the number of participating athletes. To that extend, in 1993, in cooperation with the International Sports Federations (ISFs), the IOC introduced criteria for participation in the OG, which the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) presented to the National Sports Federations (NSFs). In order to achieve sporting success the NSFs receive money from their country's government, sponsors and other sources, hence their activities must be transparent and in accordance with the pertaining laws (Palmer, 2005). To that extend, fair and consistent criteria for assessing the work they do, which are communicated well in advance, should be applied to them, as well as to all stakeholders of the OG (i.e., NOC's, athletes, officials, medical teams, etc.) (Duncan, 2005).

Bearing in mind the fact that the 2004 OG would be held in Athens, Greece, the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) established a plan, which connected the selection of the athletes with the NSFs' preparation programs . Considering the fact that there are many different sports / athletes / competition rules / recordings of results and, most importantly, perceptions of what success is, establishing objective and fair criteria for selecting athletes is a quite difficult task. The issue becomes more complex because it is associated with the distribution of money to the NSFs for the Olympic preparation of their athletes. Almost every time conflicts arise among the NSFs regarding these criteria, raising the issues of objectivity and transparency on behalf of the NSFs and of effectiveness and efficiency on behalf of the HOC.


Purpose of the study

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the HOC's Selection Criteria System (SCS) for the athletes who participated in the Athens 2004 OG.


This study was materialized using literature review (HOC's archives, the International Olympic Academy's library, and other relevant sources), interviews with an HOC Technical Advisor and personal involvement in the whole process.

Evolution of the HOC's policy on selection criteria

The HOC was established on 24 November 1894, to serve the purpose of organizing the 1st OG of modern times, hence it was the first NOC in the world (Koulouri, 2002). As sports were not organized in the country at that time, in order to select the athletes who would participate in those Games the HOC did not set any particular criteria. Instead, they organized national games at the island of Tenos and the winners of the events were registered in the OG (Chrisafis, 1930; Skiadas, 1996).

The first attempt to establish selection criteria for the athletes was made in 1978, when Mr. Nikos Filaretos, HOC's Secretary General at that time, proposed a system called "5 Olympic Cycles", which was based on standards established by the ISFs, similar to one adopted by the Belgian NOC. Mr. Filaretos' proposal was not endorsed by the HOC (

Few years later, Mr. Ioannis Papadoyiannakis, Chairman of the HOC's Olympic Preparation Commission (OPC) [The Olympic Preparation Commission (OPC) constitutes of HOC Board members, assisted by two Technical Advisors, who function as links between the OPC and the NSFs] at that time, proposed an Olympic Preparation Program (OPP), which specified entry standards for athletes aiming at participating in the Seoul OG (1988). The HOC adopted the proposal and for the first time basic criteria for selecting athletes were adopted. …

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