What happens once the Olympic flame has been extinguished and time marches on? You’re left behind with a lasting memory of a sporting legacy, right? Wrong. Many venues that once hosted thousands upon thousands of people now lay haunted and abandoned, mere examples of money down the drain. From Athens to Beijing and back to Berlin we have uncovered some of the most chilling and shocking images in post-Olympic history.
It’s safe to say that for host countries it’s a mighty costly affair. Just ask London, which forked out $11.6 billion or Beijing with their $40-billion expense. The Games set Sochi back by a shocking $51 billion, and now their venues are desolate and forgotten. The empty stadium seats lay covered in dust, and some of the structures have crumbled.
You would think these world-class infrastructures would serve as a venue to provide generations of people with the opportunity to get active, but alas. These days, the world plays host to countless abandoned Olympic venues from all across the globe from larger-than-life stadiums to luxurious ski jumps to diving pools. What was once an Olympics sports complex now serves as a massive graveyard of memories. The 2004 Summer Games in Athens are often cited as having built some of the biggest post-Olympic venue failures. Greece built nearly two dozen facilities for the Games. Ten years later, many of them have been abandoned or are rarely used. Just six months after the Olympics, Rio joins a long list of past hosts who have left venues to rot.
Our collection of images below are chilling and shocking and paint a very dark picture of the aftermath of one of the most celebrated sporting events in the world.
Check out these 16 Chilling Images of Olympic Venues in our eerie gallery below…
16. The Olympic Village in Athens
Greece stands proud as the founding city of the Olympics, but what remains ten years on from playing host is now a symbol of the country’s devastated economy. We’d be complimentary in saying the Olympia in Athens is in total ruin as one can see total desolation and abandonment. The Sports Complex was one of the world’s favorite venues across Europe, and it’s been left to decay. Many of the Olympic venues haven’t been used since the Games and stand as reminders of just how costly the whole series of events can be for the host. Some have dared to say that the only things that separate the dilapidated venues from the Parthenon and old ruins are several thousand years and the collapse of the Roman Empire. Judging by the pics that have surfaced, we can’t help but agree…
15. The Sarajevo Bobsled Track
So many locations have been forgotten by the public from Beijing to Berlin and as far as Atlanta to Athens, but there may just be hope after all when it comes to the Sarajevo (now called Bosnia) Bobsled Track from the Winter Olympic Games of 1984. There have been plans to restore the track for wheeled sled use and so far these efforts have been successful.
It’s hard to believe that the track was once used regularly for training and competitions by teams from all around the world in the days before the devastating. Once the war began, the metal from the refrigeration system was taken and melted down for munitions. The track, due to its position over the city, became a shelling point for artillery fire. Holes were even drilled in the track to shoot guns through.
14. The Olympic Stadium in Atlanta
When it comes to Atlanta, the host city experienced much tragedy. A pipe bomb exploded at Centennial Park killing one and injuring over 111 people. Despite this hurdle, they managed to pull through and make it a financial success despite the odds, thus making Olympic history. Nearly all of the newly constructed venues were recycled and reused over the years, but despite their best efforts, a few fell through the cracks. The Olympic Stadium is an example of such, and while it was once filled with excitement and crowds, it is now filled with disappointment and silence. A few eerie photographs have emerged and showcase the Atlanta venues now playing host to rubble and neglect.
13. The BMX Track in Beijing
The 2008 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad or Beijing 2008 may have taken place less than ten years ago, but the venues are a far cry from the prestige of the international multi-sport event. Numerous venues from across the city now stand deserted and forgotten, including the likes of the rowing and kayaking center, the baseball arena and even the BMX track. Sure, some of the venues have fared better than most, but they have been left in a bad way facing a life of neglect and solitude. Even the official mascots, which include a few colorful cartoon characters lie face down in the dirt in a venue earmarked to be a shopping mall. Construction was never completed, and much like the other neglected buildings, they lie in wait with no real purpose.
12. The Ski Jump Tower in Italy
When it comes to the Winter Olympics in Italy back in 1956, there was just one problem on everyone’s minds – how could you have a Winter Games without snow? The answer they got was anything but what you’d want to hear, as that year saw the little city experience a warm winter with little to no snowfall. It forced the committee to go to Plan B and enlist the help of the Italian Army to truck in tons of snow for the events. Little did they know it wouldn’t be the only major problem they’d face as the Italian Games proved to be unsuccessful in more ways than one…
11. The Olympic Mascots in Beijing
When it comes to forgotten Olympic venues, Beijing’s name is certain to pop up, and just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any worse, it does. It seems the Olympic venues and various facilities are not the only forgotten and abandoned elements left behind following the Games. Even the Beijing 2008 mascots lie abandoned and deserted. Mascots Nini and Yingying, two of the five mascots created in the spirit of the Games, lie face down amongst trees and foliage. Their home was meant to be converted into a shopping mall, but it never came to be, and the mascots lie there serving as a sad reminder of just how costly the process can be. They are just part of several venues falling into utter disrepair and reflect how construction projects are often abandoned following the Games.
10. The Beach Volleyball Stadium in Athens
At first glance, the Beach Volleyball Olympic Stadium at the Faliro Olympic Complex in Athens is anything but welcoming. It’s ironic as just over ten years ago, the XXVIII Olympiad was held in the country of Greece with the motto “Welcome Home.”
“Most of them have chain-linked fence around them, and they’re covered with graffiti. It was a waste of billions of dollars,” says Gary Hustwit following his documentary project, The Olympic City.
It was estimated that the cost of hosting the Games in Athens was approximately 9 billion Euros, as the majority of the various sporting venues were built specifically for the Games. At that time, Greece’s economy was unstable at best, and following the Olympics, it plunged into a deep economic recession. The beach volleyball stadium is just one of many venues that lie abandoned and have just proven to be symbolic of waste.
9. The Olympic Village in Berlin
Perhaps it’s not surprising that a few Olympic venues faded into a distant memory following the Berlin Games back in 1936. It was nicknamed the “Nazi Games,” and the sporting event proved to be infamous.
The major international sporting event was kicked off by Adolf Hitler himself, and the Games were used as a tool to promote the German race. A war soon broke out, and the Olympics faded into the background, taking the venues and stadiums down with it. The Olympic Village now stands as a sight for sore eyes and is in disuse. Other facilities, including the likes of the indoor training pool and several other buildings, were all left to rot. Today, only around 25 of the 140+ buildings that were built have actually survived.
8. The Olympic Kayaking Course in Beijing
For a period of sixteen glorious days, the world is your stage as all eyes are on the host city during the Olympics. Millions upon millions of dollars are spent on brand new venues, facilities, and infrastructure to host the hundreds of thousands that travel to the city. Olympic fever spreads like wildfire, but what becomes of the structures once the flame has been extinguished and the Games have come to a close? The Olympic Kayaking Course in Beijing provides a sad answer as it’s simply a shadow of its former self. It seems its purpose has been served, and now, the state-of-the-art venue will live out the rest of its days in obscurity and despair. It’s just one of many venues that have been left to decay and symbolizes financial ruin.
7. The Linnahall Amphitheater in Russia
Russia is undoubtedly one of the world’s most secretive countries, and when it comes to the Soviet Era Moscow Games, even more secrecy and mystery prevail.
Fast forward a few decades, and Russia still chooses to remain silent. Little is said about the Moscow Games. The photographs that have emerged depicting a few abandoned venues paint a very real picture and shows that just like many other host cities, Moscow seems to have unfortunately met the same fate. Sure, there have been a few Olympic venues which have been converted and transformed, but one venue reveals a shocking tale of rejection — the Linnahall Amphitheater. Perhaps, it would have been better if it had been demolished instead of being left to rot.
6. The Olympic Stadium in Athens
Whether it’s an unused bobsled track from the Sarajevo Winter Olympics or the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta, one thing is for sure: that the Olympics is a costly exercise. Not every host city manages to transform the Games into a financial success. It’s safe to say that a large majority of the constructed stadiums in Greece now lie abandoned, and this applies particularly to the Olympic Stadium in Athens.
When it comes to Greece, following the Olympics, they have been experiencing a devastating economic recession, and whilst the site of the Athens Olympic softball and baseball events is still standing, it is anything but well-maintained. Visitors can see that the pitch has been neglected, and several weeds now call the stadium home. These days, the venue serves as a makeshift shelter for refugees and the homeless.
5. The Olympic Village in Munich
One thing that is synonymous with the Summer Olympics in Munich back in ‘72 is the “Munich Massacre,” carried out by the terrorist group Black September. It seems Germany could never truly escape its Olympic Infamy, and with a tragedy of this magnitude, it’s easy to see why.
The massacre took place during the peak of the summer Olympics in Munich and resulted in eleven Israeli athletes and coaches being kidnapped from the Munich Olympic Village. To make matters worse, it all unfolded live, and viewers at home and visitors to the Olympics were able to watch it on TV. Following the Games and the massacre that ensued, the Olympia Park has remained largely in use. The situation was ended by a huge gunfight that left five of the terrorists and all of the nine hostages dead. A chilling image emerges from the Olympic Village; it features one of the Palestinian terrorists, and the photo still brings up feelings of fear and shock today.
4. The Tennis Stadium in Atlanta
If you’ve ever stopped to wonder what happens to the overly-expensive stadiums built specifically for Olympic Games to be held in, then you should be wondering no more. The images showcasing some of the devastating effects of the days and years following the Olympics for many host cities tell a huge part of the story. Sure, the memories will live on forever, but what about the venues?
For the official Tennis Stadium in Atlanta, it seems both the Games and the excitement are long over. The venue sits idle, and it’s now hard to imagine that some of the biggest names in tennis competed in the venue in its former glory days. The Atlanta stadium once housed thousands of enthused fans and professional athletes, but these days, it serves as nothing but a shocking money-loser.
3. The Sports Complex in Sarajevo
When it comes to the Sarajevo (now referred to as Bosnia) Winter Olympics, so much can be said for the absolute devastation and despair. Venues have been left to wither under the harsh elements, while others have been vandalized and some even face the threat of collapse.
It’s chilling to hear that out of a grand total of nine venues that were built and used for the Winter Games, none are being used today. A mere sixteen days in the spotlight and an unforgivable expense, for what? The custom-made venues were immediately abandoned, and their conditions only worsened when Sarajevo broke out in a civil war a couple of years later. These venues are undoubtedly among the most haunting former Olympic sites in the world.
2. The Beach Volleyball Stadium in Beijing
When it comes to the Beijing Games back in 2008, the city’s Olympic committee went above and beyond to ensure it shattered the world’s expectations and amazed and entertained everyone. It’s been said that over 5 million visitors filled the Olympic park, and that’s a number that won’t be easily beaten.
The opening ceremony alone saw an exciting spectacle complete with fireworks, billions of LED lights, and a string of performers. But what remains to be proud of now except bragging rights for the impressive turnout?
Unfortunately, Beijing has experienced the same fate as Athens, Italy, and Atlanta as most of their venues are now completely abandoned or dilapidated. Venues that include the kayaking course, the beach volleyball stadium, and even the rowing course are all rotting away.
1. Rio 2016
It’s disappointing to see that less than a year after the Olympic Torch made its appearance in Rio, the venues have experienced terrible fates. Truly eerie photographs of the sites have been revealed, and the sights are chilling.
Perhaps you’re no more shocked than we are to see the fate of the city post-Games. In the months leading up to the Olympics, there were strings of incomplete buildings and bad press detailing the progress (or lack of it). Fears of crime and corruption were widespread, but their greatest problem would arise in the quiet after the storm — Rio now joins the League of the Ruins, and it’s sad to see that what remains following the Games is a list of spooky abandoned venues from contests past.