Olympic Games 2004: The German House in Athens
Those who watch the 2004 Olympic Summer Games on television will no doubt see more than the events taking place in the sports arenas. Between competitions viewers are often offered a behind the scenes look into the lives of the athletes and the sights and sounds of Athens and the surrounding area. In Germany, the television audience is shown, among others, images of the German House in Athens: it is the central meeting point of the German athletes, and they can follow the events in other disciplines on the terrace.
The German House is actually the German School in Athens. Since August 12, 2004 it has temporarily served the National Olympic Committee (NOC) as a meeting place for athletes, journalists, officials and guest, for example politicians.
Such a place was offered for the first time during the Olympic Games in Lake Placid 1980, although as an emergency solution. Former NOC President Walther Tröger said: "Before, there had always been a refuge where athletes preparing for a competition could go to escape from the frenzied atmosphere of the Olympic village – for example 1964 in Tokyo or 1976 in Montreal. But those were not German Houses". At the 1980 games in Lake Placid the NOC quickly bought a house since there was a dearth of accommodations in the area; 30 organizers were lodged there.
Today, the dimensions are quite different: alongside the Olympic team of about 700 people, approximately 1,000 media representatives – for example, from public and private stations, daily newspapers and various magazines – travel to the Greek capital from Germany. The NOC not only gained four Olympic partners to finance the facility (adidas, Bitburger, Obi and Payback), but also 19 co-partners and more than a dozen companies that sponsor the German House. They come to Athens with a total of about 2,500 people. Altogether, the German House is designed to host up to 1,000 guests each day.
The public area is the central place in the house – it’s equipped with a buffet, a stage and a bar. Broadcasts of the Olympic Games can be watched on large Daktronics screens and on TVs fed by Germany’s public stations, ARD and ZDF. Other areas include the athlete's lounge, where the athletes can retire to if they want to be among themselves or are simply looking for a place to relax, the medical center for guests, the press conference room and the lounge for all guests. The architectural planning for the German House was realized by the Düsseldorf office of the architects Lippsmeier + Partner; Messe Düsseldorf is in charge of the organization.