What The World’s Former Olympic Sites Looked Like After We Abandoned Them

Published April 17, 2017
Updated March 13, 2019
Abandoned Olympic Sites Aquatic Stadium
The outside cover Rio's Olympic aquatic stadium is falling off just six months after the games.YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

Rio Media Center
The demolished remains of the former Rio Media Center, constructed to host some visiting media for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.Mario Tama/Getty Images

Media Pamphlets
Pamphlets sit among the demolished remains of the former Rio Media Center.Mario Tama/Getty Images

Prefab Houses
Abandoned prefabricated houses remain next to the Olympic golf course, created and used for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

Abandoned Olympic Sites Athens Rings
Athens Olympic rings shown in disrepair. $15 billion was spent on Athen's facilities. Fortunately, some have found new life.i09

Abandoned Olympic Sites Athens Stadium
The Athens Olympic stadium. i09

Athens Track Field
The Athens track and field arena. i09

Abandoned Olympics Changing Room
A toppled sign for a Beijing changing room. $40 billion was spent on the Beijing Olympic village. Confidentielles

Beijing Baseball Field
Beijing's baseball field.The Blaze

Abandoned Olympics Beijing Beach Volleyball
The outside view of the Beijing beach volleyball stadium.i09

Abandoned Olympics Beijing Kayak Venue
The Beijing kayaking venue. i09

Berlin Buildings
Berlin's Olympic village. Controversy clouded the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin as well, with Hitler using the event as a platform to promote a nominally “kinder” Germany to the world stage. Many countries threatened to boycott the Olympics that year, but ultimately most participated anyway.Flickr/ norbertloev

Gymnastics Floor
Berlin gymnastics arena. Flickr/ unkreatives

Berlin Aqua Rings
The rings inside the Berlin aquatic Center. i09

Pool Games
Berlin aquatic center. Flickr/safefire

Berlin Mural
A mural in an abandoned Olympic building in Berlin.i09

Berlin Orange Man
Unused Olympic building in Berlin.i09

Yellow Blue Rings
These Olympic rings in Germany are barely visible. Flickr/ morgennebel

Village Berlin
Berlin's Olympic village. Flickr/ alicepopkorn

Helsinki Pool
Remnants of the outdoor Helsinki Olympic pool. Back in 1952, Helsinki was the twelfth host of the modern games, so the deterioration is less shocking than some. Confidentielles

Helsinki Pummel Horse
A pummel horse still stands in the Helsinki gymnastics stadium. Confidentielles

Abandoned Olympics Sarajevo Bobsleigh
Perhaps the saddest of all is Sarajevo, whose war-torn façade includes the 1984 Olympic bobsleigh track, which was reported to have been used as an artillery stronghold during the Bosnian War nearly a decade later.Buzzfeed

Sarajevo Bobsleigh
Another view of the Sarajevo bobsleigh track. Flickr/ marcofieber

Sarajevo Track
Sarajevo track being reclaimed by nature. Flickr/ marcofieber

Sarajevo Hotel
The Olympic hotel in Sarajevo. i09

Abandoned Olympics Sarajevo Ski Jump
Sarajevo ski jump.Buzzfeed

Decayed Olympic Rings
Decaying outdoor Olympic rings in Sarajevo. Hedwig Klawuttke / Wikimedia Commons

Sarajevo Sports Complex
The Sarajevo sports complex. MSGT Michael J. Haggerty / Wikimedia Commons

Gymnastics Floor Og

Media Pamphlets Og
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 21: Media pamphlets sit among the demolished remains of the former Rio Media Center, constructed to host some visiting media for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on November 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The temporary structure was demolished two months ago following the Olympics but much of the rubble has yet to be cleared away. The hazardous rubble, which provides potential mosquito breeding grounds, is located downtown beside city hall, a convention center, and a day care center. Rio de Janeiro's state government is in the midst of a deep financial crisis. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Pool Games Og

A great deal of preparation and construction go into hosting the Olympic Games -- but in many instances, the structures built only await dilapidation following the events' close.

Given the competition, cost, and sacrifices involved in creating and preparing spaces for the elite athletic ritual, the sight of since-abandoned Olympic villages often leaves viewers feeling a bit gutted. The photos above -- solemn, sparse images of elaborate sites succumbing to nature -- call the motivations of Olympic host cities into question, as well as the long-term value of the spectacles we observe every other year.

Erin Kelly
An All That's Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she's designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Kelly, Erin. "What The World’s Former Olympic Sites Looked Like After We Abandoned Them." AllThatsInteresting.com, April 17, 2017, https://allthatsinteresting.com/abandoned-olympic-venues. Accessed June 23, 2024.