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|PARIS， Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- French customs data released on Friday showed the country's trade deficit remained unchanged at 4.3 billion euros (4.77 billion U.S. dollars) in August ，compared to July figures.
"The increase in purchases continues while exports recover strongly， leading to unchanged deficit at 4.3 billion euros in August，" customs said in a monthly report.
French total imports were up 1.8 percent in August mainly on surging bill of pharmaceutical products， while exports grew by 2.1 percent due to good performance of transport equipment sector.
For the past 12 months， the accumulated trade deficit rose by 6 percent to 48.4 billion euros， according to the report. (1 euro = 1.1 U.S. dollars)
MEXICO CITY， July 31 (Xinhua) -- The Games of the 28th Olympiad marked the return of the international sporting event to Athens， Greece， the city where they began.
Athens had tried in vain to host the 1996 Olympics， which marked the 100th anniversary of the games， but was outvoted， and lost to Atlanta in the United States.
After beating Rome， Italy， in the last round of voting (66 against 41) in September 1997， Athens was chosen to host the 2004 games， which took place from Aug. 13 to 29.
As a tribute to the significance of the laurel in ancient Olympic competitions， at this edition each athlete that took to the podium received a laurel crown along with his or her medal.
The 23 stages and stadiums were testimony to the largest and most expensive games in history up to then， which saw the participation of 10，625 athletes (4，329 women) from 201 countries and regions， competing in 301 events.
This edition of the games was also the most watched， with almost 3.9 billion television viewers all over the world.
The Olympic torch passed through a total of 33 cities in 26 countries and regions， including all the previous host cities， as well as various Greek towns.
After its world tour， the torch arrived in Athens' Olympic Stadium on Aug. 13 during the magnificent opening ceremony， attended by around 11，000 people.
The most dramatic moment was perhaps the five Olympic rings in flames emerging from the middle of the artificial lake that had been built in the middle of the stadium.
Prior to this， hundreds of actors carried out different representations that related to Greek history， from mythology to the modern day.
A highlight of the ceremony was when the delegation from Afghanistan entered the stadium. It was the first time the country participated in the games since 1996， when the Taliban came to power， and it was the very first time women were on the team.
The Afghan representatives received a standing ovation from the public， who were also very supportive of the Iraqi team when they entered the stadium. At the time， Iraq was in the midst of a U.S.-led invasion.
In contrast， the U.S. team was met with boos， in a show of public disapproval for Washington's military actions in Iraq.
The ceremony culminated with windsurfer Nikolaus Kaklamanakis， 1996 gold medalist， lighting the Olympic cauldron followed by spectacular fireworks.
The closing ceremony was no less spectacular and around 70，000 spectators attended. The ceremony was filled with humor and performances from various Greek singers. It also included traditional dancing from various Greek regions， highlighting Greek pride in culture and their country.
A significant part of the ceremony came after the final parade of participating delegations and speeches were made. The national anthems of Greece and future host China began to play and the mayor of Athens handed over the Olympic Flag to her counterpart from Beijing， the host city for the next Olympics in 2008.
After a short cultural performance from Chinese actors， dancers and musicians， the 28th Olympic Games officially came to an end.
In this edition， women's wrestling made its debut with competitions in four weight categories. Also， Australian swimmer Michael Phelps' performance in the pool is worthy of note as he set a record by winning eight medals in one Olympics， six of them were gold.
The Chinese team finished second in the general medal table， only three gold medals behind the winning U.S. team (China's best performance at the time in Olympic history). However， without a doubt， the most outstanding individual performance was Liu Xiang's gold-medal-win in the 110 meters hurdles.
Liu finished in a time of 12.91 seconds， equalling the world record set in 1993 by the UK's Colin Jackson， and he made history by becoming China's first ever athlete to win a gold medal in men's track and field.
World champion Luo Xuejuan， 20， once again showed her ability and skill in the pool by taking home the gold in the 100 meters breaststroke in 1:06.64 minutes， an Olympic record.
It is also worth mentioning China's women's volleyball team. The team took home the gold for the first time in 20 years after coming back from two sets down against Russia in the final.
2004 ATHENS OLYMPIC GAMES MEDAL TABLE
COUNTRY GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL
U.S. 36 39 27 102
China 32 17 14 63
Russia 27 27 38 92
Australia 17 16 16 49
Japan 16 9 12 37
Germany 13 16 20 49
France 11 9 13 33
Italy 10 11 11 32
South Korea 9 12 9 30
UK 9 9 12 30
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