Thursday, 3 August 2017

Sports: What abandoned Olympic venues from around the world look like today


Facilities from Sarajevo, Athens, Beijing and Rio de Janeiro are all empty, and the photographs are mind-blowing.

We're one year removed from the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

While the Games were a success from a competitive standpoint, Rio's facilities frequently came under fire. The Olympic Village was called "uninhabitable," while a ramp at the sailing venue was destroyed by 10-foot waves – and that was before the competition even started.

With each passing Olympics, more and more cities around the world are starting to question whether hosting the Olympics is worth it.

Most cities simply do not have the infrastructure required to withstand the two-week influx of athletes, coaches, fans, and media members. The money required to build state-of-the-art athletic facilities is soaring, and academic research suggests that spending billions on a two-week event is not a wise investment.

In the worst-case scenario for host cities, Olympic venues go unused after the games and become white elephants — total wastes of space and money. We've seen this at Olympic sites around the world.

Of course, the reasons this happens are specific to each country. Sarajevo, for example, suffered from a gruesome war that caused the 1984 Winter Olympic venues to crumble. Nevertheless, these photos from Reuters, Getty Images, and others have become symbolic of the downside of hosting the Olympics.

Will the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang follow a similar path?

Emmett Knowlton contributed to this report.

In 2016, Rio de Janeiro hosted the first Olympic Games in Latin America in nearly 40 years.

The city has yet to clear away much of the debris created by the Games. Here's what's left of the Rio Media Center, demolished in September.

The site has become a health hazard. It is located in downtown Rio, close to public facilities like city hall, a convention center and a day care.

Many Olympic sites are littered with rusty metal.

Maracana Stadium, where the football tournament was held.

The grass is almost completely dry.

Looters ransacked the stadium back in January, taking items like televisions, fire extinguishers and a statue.

Source: BBC

Aquatics facilities are also in disrepair. This one was covered by translucent tapestries before they started to wear away.

It looks even worse without them.

Inside, the stadium is deserted. Puddles of stagnant water cover the floors, creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The facility's exterior isn't much better. The city was supposed to tear down the aquatics stadium soon after the Olympics, but no progress has been made so far.

The Olympic golf course is mostly deserted. There are sometimes only three or four groups playing at a time.


The course cost around $20 million to build.


Olympic signage continues to loom throughout the city.

A view of Rio from the mostly abandoned Olympic Park.

Rio's Olympic Village. Thousands of apartments remain unoccupied.

Source: Rio's $700 million athletes village was turned into luxury condos but is now reportedly 'shuttered' and 93% vacant

This water tank has been abandoned.

So were most of the city's efforts to clean up Guanabara Bay. The bay was the site of the sailing and other open-water events.

Cleaning up Guanabara Bay was a big part of Rio's successful bid to host the Games.

Source: One of the sites for the 2016 Summer Olympics is completely filthy, and it's going to stay that way

Lying in Rio's rubble are thousands of pamphlets from the Games — scars of an Olympics that proved to be more than the city bargained for.

Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics in 1984.

One decade later, civil war broke out amid the breakup of what during the Olympics was the country of Yugoslavia.

Some of the Olympic venues were repurposed and used as military facilities.


The bobsled facility was turned into an artillery stronghold during the war.


Today the heavily graffitied course is sometimes used for BMX races.

A dog walks past the Kosevo Stadium, where the opening ceremonies were held.

And weeds grow over the walls of the Kosevo Stadium.

The abandoned ski jump at Mount Igman.

Seating is overrun with grass and weeds.

Another angle of the ski jump.

The track itself is covered in debris.

The ski jump through a broken window.

The Olympic rings on a tower above what used to be the figure skating arena.

This is what's left of the figure skating facility, Zetra Hall.

Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympics in 1996. The Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was used for baseball, but was demolished in 1997. The space was turned into 4,000 parking spaces.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The cauldron was moved from Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Stadium when the stadium was renamed Turner Field and repurposed for the Braves. The cauldron now sits idly overlooking a highway, and Turner Field will be demolished in 2017.

Source: Around the Rings

Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics and will host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

A sign from the area where the baseball stadium once stood.

A stray dog on a field that was once inside the baseball stadium.

A makeshift broom in what was once an Olympic "green area."

Tourists next to the rings in a former "green area" from the Olympics.

The parking lot for the cycling stadium is now used for driving tests.


A rusting sign from the kayaking facility.

A security guard with a flat tire from his bicycle at the kayaking venue.


The three empty poles in the left of the shot once flew country flags of medal-winning Olympians.


The BMX facility.

Many of their stadiums are shut out from the public, like the beach volleyball facility.

A promotional banner for beach volleyball still stands.

Panels on the outside of the beach volleyball facility are falling off.

A boat sails past the stands and observation tower from the rowing facility.

The polluted waters near the facility.

Athens went $15 billion over its budget to prepare for the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Source: IMF

Greece shouldered the cost overruns, and many of the facilities have fallen into disuse.

Source: Bloomberg

The Olympic Village is abandoned.

The city planned to turn the Olympic Village into public housing.

Source: Telegraph

Thousands of families applied to live there, but the whole project fell through.

Source: Telegraph

Seating areas are overgrown with weeds.

And stairs and covered in rust.

The canoe and kayak facility was the first in Olympic history to be filled with saltwater rather than freshwater.

Source: NYT

Now it's abandoned.

And dry in patches.

There's graffiti everywhere.

Beach volleyball practice courts are growing wild.

The beach volleyball venue from a distance.

Inside, it's a nightmare.

And useless.

Weeds are everywhere.

A diving center is drained.

A pool at the Olympic Village is filthy.

And polluted.

Frogs have found homes, at least.

The tracks are still used by some, but it doesn't mean they're in good shape.

The field hockey facility.

And an old podium.

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