Turin was a first ballot selection to host the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, the first time the Winter Games would be held in Italy in 50 years. For the seventh straight Winter Games, Canada improved upon its medal total, achieving another best ever with 24. This time, Canada also broke into the top three in the medal table, finishing behind only Germany (29) and the United States (25).
In 2004 the Olympic Games finally returned home to Greece. History was revisited as the shot put events were held in Olympia, site of the ancient Olympic Games. The archery events were staged in the Panathenaic Stadium that had been used for the 1896 Olympic Games. Both marathons began in the city that gave the event its name and followed the 1896 route, ending in the Panathenaic Stadium.
After losing a close vote for the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, Salt Lake City was the runaway winner for 2002. Canada once again set a national record for Winter Olympic medals with 17, including seven gold. One of the biggest stories of the Games was Canada’s return to ice hockey prominence as both the men’s and women’s teams won gold.
The Olympic Games returned to the southern hemisphere and were the most attended ever. In addition to the 199 NOCs, there were also four Independent Olympic Athletes from East Timor, which had voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia in August 1999. The Parade of Nations was also notable as North Korea and South Korea marched in together under one flag, despite entering separate teams. The Opening Ceremony was capped with one of the most memorable moments in Olympic history as Australian Aboriginal Cathy Freeman lit the Olympic cauldron.
History will be made in 2016 when Rio de Janeiro, Brazil hosts the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, marking the first time that a South American country will welcome the world to an Olympic Games. It is also just the third time that the Games will be held in the southern hemisphere, following Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000.