The crumbling legacy of past Olympic venues

A look back at the now derelict and defunct past Olympic venues.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Just a year after Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics, the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was demolished to create space for 4,000 parking spaces.

A standing testament to humanity's greatest athletic competition, Olympic stadiums have hosted the fastest and the strongest athletes on earth. Many countries buy into the promise that hosting the Olympics will bring wealth and prosperity to their land. With billions of dollars spent on stadiums and Olympic venues, plans are drawn to ensure that these monuments are put to good use, long after the games have moved on. But what really happens to these mega structures in the decades following an Olympic games?

Beijing 2008

Eight years after Beijing hosted a spectacular summer Olympics, China's bustling capital sees vastly improved public transport and infrastructure, but many of the venues built for the event languish unloved, underused and draining public finances.

Workers remove rubbish from the canal running past the National Stadium, also known as the ''Bird's Nest'', which was the venue for the athletics and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing

The deserted and unmaintained former venue for the kayaking competition of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, can be seen on the outskirts of Beijing

A worker looks up at the honeycomb-shaped walls of the National Aquatics Centre, also known as the "Water Cube", which was the venue for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games swimming and diving competitions

Nini (L) and Yingying, two of five Chinese Olympic mascots, lies abandoned outside an unfinished mall in Beijing.

Athens 2004

It was billed as a chance to transform Greece's image abroad and boost growth but 10 years after the country hosted the world's greatest sporting extravaganza, there is little to celebrate at the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games.

A general view of the Olympic Beach Volleyball Stadium at Faliro complex in Athens

Garbage floats in a deserted swimming pool at the Olympic Village in Thrakomakedones, north of Athens

The abandoned Canoe and Kayak Slalom Centre which hosted competitions during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games is seen at the Hellenikon complex south of Athens

The purpose-built Taekwando arena has occasionally been used for non-sporting events since the Athens 2004 Olympics. Twelve years after the Athens Games, many of the venues remain abandoned or rarely used, focusing public anger on past governments as the country struggles through years of recession and a debt crisis that has seen a surge in poverty and unemployment.

The Olympic taekwondo and handball arena is seen in southern Athens

"It was a waste of money and all for show. It cost a lot," said Dimitris Mardas, economics professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, who was the then-general secretary for trade.

Sarajevo 1984

Wartime destruction and negligence have turned most of the Bosnian capital's 1984 Winter Olympic venues into painful reminders of the city's golden times. The world came together in the former Yugoslavia in 1984 after the West had boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and Russia boycotted the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. Just eight years later, the bobsleigh and luge track on Mount Trbevic was turned into an artillery position from which Bosnian Serbs pounded the city for almost four years. Today, the abandoned concrete construction looks like a skeleton littered with graffiti.

The bobsleigh track, damaged by artillery fire is painted with graffiti at Mt. Trebevic near Bosnian capital of Sarajevo.

An empty chairlift is seen near the ski jumping facility at Mt. Igman near the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo

A view of the disused ski jump from the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics on Mount Igman, near Saravejo

The disused ski jump from the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics is seen through broken windows on Mount Igman, near Saravejo

A view of the derelict medals podium at the disused ski jump from the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics on Mount Igman, near Saravejo

Graffiti by London creative collective The Lurkers "The Lurkers do Sarajevo" is written on a destroyed hotel at Mt. Igman.

Atlanta 1996

Twenty years after the Olympics were held in Atlanta, some remnants of that improbable summer remain a highly visible part of the city's landscape, while others quickly faded away. Herndon Stadium, home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games field hockey events sits vacant in Atlanta. Perhaps the saddest legacy of the games, this 15,000-seat stadium was used during the filming of the movie "We Are Marshall" but was abandoned after Morris Brown College ran into financial difficulties. Gutted by vandals, it is now covered in graffiti and piles of trash. 

Herndon Stadium

Boxing gloves hang from the rafters of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games torch near the formerly named Centennial Olympic Stadium, now Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team in Atlanta.

The derelict netting and scoreboard in the background on a tennis court stand at the Stone Mountain Tennis Center

The permanent tennis facility built in a corner of Stone Mountain Park quickly became a money loser and now sits idle, weeds growing through the outer courts and the scoreboard in disrepair.

TRTWorld and agencies