The Olympic Games are one of the most popular sporting events around the world, regardless if they are the Summer or Winter edition. Billions of dollars are spent on state of the art facilities, stadiums and complexes to host the games. It has turned into a huge undertaking in order to be a host, but also a competition to out-do the Olympics before you by making it a larger event than before. But that is leading to some problems in certain countries that have hosted games and today, there are stadiums that can’t be used or rather, no one wants to use. Plenty of stadiums have been deserted and abandoned, leaving millions of dollars to go to waste.
But on the other side, some countries have done a great job of thinking beyond the 16-day Olympic Games window and of the legacy the games will leave. They have a plan for what these facilities will be as soon as the games are over, giving these Olympic Stadiums a new life and a new purpose. Due to rising costs, it’s getting harder and harder to find hosts for the Olympics, a lot of which is because of the horror stories of abandoned multi-million-dollar facilities. But with some proper planning, an Olympics can leave a lasting legacy, just as long as the community hosting them has the need for large stadiums after the Olympics have long since left town.
25 Deserted: Berlin Swimming, 1936 Summer Games
Berlin hosted the Summer Games last in 1936, so a little forgiveness is given to Germany for not keeping up to date with some sports venues, as it has been nearly a century since the Olympics were in town.
Pictured here is the indoor pool facility, which is striking for two reasons.
One, it’s such a small venue compared to today’s massive stadiums that need to host thousands of fans, as swimming is one of the major sports during the first week of every Summer Games. And two, the facility is abandoned and hasn’t been used in decades, yet still stands.
24 Deserted: Grenoble Ski Jumping, 1968 Winter Olympics
Italy wasn’t the only Olympic host to let their ski jumping tower go to waste after the Olympics ended, as Grenoble’s ski jump tower looks very run down and more like what someone would find on a patio, not an Olympic venue.
It’s remarkable that this area wasn’t turned into something useful after the Olympics, for the lone reason that the view is amazing and shows of the France landscape in what is perhaps the most beautiful view of the Olympic Games.
23 In Use: Helsinki Tennis Palace now a Cinema
The Helsinki Tennis Palace was supposed to host the tennis events at the 1940 Summer Games, but World War 2 cancelled the games, leaving the Palace without a purpose.
It would be used for tennis finally in 1952 when Helsinki was given a chance to host.
Today, the former tennis court, Tennis Palace still hosts plenty of action, only this time it’s on the big screen, as it has been turned into a 14-theatre multiplex, becoming one of the biggest theatres in Helsinki and the first movie theatre to utilize THX and SDDS in all its auditoriums.
22 Deserted: Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, 2018 Winter Games
The Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium deserves a place on this list, despite the fact that it doesn’t exist anymore, and it never held a single sporting event and only five events in total.
The South Korean city had no further need for such a venue, but they spent $109 million on it before tearing it down.
Generally, the stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies of Olympic Games is used for events as well, but this, stadium, if you will, was only used for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics, and one K-Pop concert before being dismantled.
21 In Use: London Olympic Stadium, 2012 Summer Games
London Olympic Stadium was the center stage for the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2012 Summer Games, including even having the Queen jump from a helicopter along with James Bond in one of the most memorable moments.
It also hosted all the track and field events at a cost of just $486 million pounds.
After the games, the stadium would be repurposed and become the home of West Ham United, who signed a 99-year lease, ensuring that the stadium will have a long life after the Olympics are well an afterthought.
20 Deserted: Rio Golf Course, 2016 Summer Games
Golf made its return to the Olympic Summer Games in 2016, and it was supposed to spark a resurgence of the sport in Brazil.
However, as the Golf Channel pointed out just six months after the Olympics, it was tough to find people to golf there, and the course went into disrepair.
There was so much hope behind the golf course not being one of those venues that would go away after the games because it’s just grass and sand, but with so few golfers willing to shill out over $80 a round, the course was hardly used, and upkeep couldn’t be continued.
19 Deserted: Athens Softball Field, 2004 Summer Games
The Hellinikon Olympic Softball Stadium was the home of softball for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens. The venue had a main field with 4,800 seat stadiums and two warm-up fields.
The BBC reported that many felt the Games in Athens were a lost opportunity, but in the softball field’s case, there was no opportunity at all, as since the games ended in 2004, not one game of softball has been played at the stadium.
In fact, there was nothing wrong with the stadium or field, but there was just no one to play in it. It has since been overgrown and neglected and is not usable.
18 In Use: Centennial Olympic Stadium, 1996 Summer Olympics
With the Summer Olympics hitting their 100th year, Atlanta had the honor of hosting the centennial games and of course, they went big on a brand new stadium. Centennial Olympic Stadium was the focal point of the games, hosting the track and field events and opening and closing ceremonies.
The Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball, however, saw their brand new stadium in the wait, as the Olympic Stadium would be renamed Turner Field and become their home for the next 20 years, although 35,000 seats were removed to lower the attendance.
17 Deserted: Rio Aquatic Center, 2016 Summer Games
It didn’t take long for things in Rio to go badly after the games ended in 2016, as the Aquatic Center was left empty, with siding panels falling off and the pools inside and outside being left with standing water in them that has turned yellow.
The Aquatic Center was dismantled to make two other facilities according to Business Insider, so at least they got something out of it, but it was definitely one of the centerpieces of the Rio games, which included works of art across the entire outside.
16 In Use: Utah Olympic Park, 2002 Winter Olympics
When Salt Lake City thought of building a massive complex to host multiple events, they were thinking long term. The Utah Olympic Park was the home to bobsled, skeleton, luge, and the Nordic combined events during the 2002 Winter Olympics, and after the event, the facility still is used as a training facility for Olympic and development level athletes.
But it’s also a tourist destination now, as the bobsled run is open to the public for $200 a ride according to curbed.com. There are also zip-lines, a mountain coaster, and a training splash pool.
15 Deserted: Atlanta Tennis Center, 1996 Summer Games
The Stone Mountain Tennis Center was where the tennis matches were played during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. It cost a total of $22 million to build and consisted of a 12,000 seat facility with an over 50,000 square feet plaza around the stadium and 15 additional courts.
Today, the courts are in such disrepair from neglect and changes of ownership that they will be demolished.
According to the Atlantic Journal, the State of Georgia transferred the stadium to Gwinnett County in 2016 but the facility hasn’t been open since 2007.
14 In Use: Lysgardsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena, 1994 Winter Olympics
The Lysgardsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena was built for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, a town of just 26,000 people. One would think, after seeing some already run down ski hills, that this little town would not be able to keep a hill this size, but it is Norway after all, and they love their skiing.
According to curbed.com, the hill is still in use and was used for the Winter Youth Olympics in 2016. It has a capacity for over 35,000 people, so that brings a lot of tourism to the small town.
13 Deserted: Beijing BMX Park, 2008 Summer Games
The Laoshan Bicycle Moto Cross park was used during the 2008 Summer Games for BMX racing and was one of nine temporary venues to be used for the games. It only hosted men’s and women’s BMX racing events, the first time the event had ever been in a Summer Olympic Games.
But it was well established that BMX biking was never going to take off in China and today the course lays in ruin, overrun by plants and bushes.
It was the smallest venue of any of the venues at the 2008 Summer Games and had a capacity of 6,000 fans.
12 In Use: Sydney Showground, 2000 Summer Olympics
The Summer Olympics went down south to Australia in 2000, which required a centerpiece stadium for the event. The Sydney Showground was built with a dome on top, which is referred to as The Dome, and is the largest wooden structure in the southern hemisphere.
Today, the Showground is used for multiple events, conferences, concerts and big celebrations, meaning the world’s largest wooden structure remains used, well after the Olympics have moved on. It was used as the baseball stadium for the Olympic games and continues to be used for sports to this day.
11 Deserted: Rio Maracana Stadium, 2016 Summer Games
It’s hard to think that one of the most famous stadiums in the world would be left deserted, but after the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, Maracana Stadium was left just that.
The stadium grass is now brown, and robberies and vandalism have plagued the stadium according to CNN, who said six months after the games, nothing was played in there.
The stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for the games, has hosted FIFA World Cup games, and was a popular stadium for soccer in Brazil.
10 Deserted: Beijing Kayaking Competition Venue, 2008 Summer Olympics
Beijing appears again on this list and despite building some amazing facilities during the Summer Games in 2008, such as the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube, others have not been so lucky, such as the Kayaking Competition Venue.
Officially known as the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park, the park has been converted into a park, but the massive cement structure that was dug into the Earth remains unused and empty of water and of competition. Kayaking centers seem to be a trend of deserted venues when it comes to the Olympics.
9 In Use: Richmond Olympic Oval, 2010 Winter Games
When Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, they needed to have a long-track speed skating track built. So they built the Richmond Olympic Oval on 32 acres of land and ran some of the fastest times in speed skating.
After the games were finished, Vancouver already had a plan in place and today, the Oval has been reused for community and high performance sports, including two ice hockey rinks, two running tracks, a climbing wall, rowing tank and a flexible field house. It cost $178 million to build the venue.
8 Deserted: Athens Canoe Venue, 2004 Summer Olympics
There is no running water or rapids at this canoe and kayak venue from Athens’ 2004 Summer Games, as the venue has remained pretty well deserted. The Hellinikon Olympic Canoe/Kayak Slalom was a 27,000 square meter facility that had room for 7,600 spectators, and it was unique because it used salt water throughout the course.
Today, however, it’s not used at all and it is a reminder to really think ahead in how to use venues for after the Olympics, especially when having to build courses for canoe and kayak events that perhaps, don’t have a significant number of athletes willing to use it afterwards.
7 In Use: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 1932 & 1984 Summer Games
It’s the stadium that seems to never close, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum broke ground in 1921 and hosted two Olympic Games, and should be part of the 2028 Olympics when they return to Los Angeles.
It was the site of field hockey, gymnastics, show jumping, and track and field in 1932 and was the track and field home in 1984 when the Coliseum became the first stadium to host an Olympics twice.
It’s the current home to the USC Trojans football team and the temporary home of the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, and in 2028, it will be the first three-time host when the Olympics return.
6 Deserted: Beijing Beach Volleyball, 2008 Summer Olympics
Beach volleyball makes another appearance on the list as the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground, hasn’t been maintained since the Olympic Summer Games in 2008, and was one of nine temporary venues used for the games.
It wasn’t intended to be used for anything afterwards, which begs the question of why spend money on it and then let it fall apart?
The last time it was used was in 2012 and, according to CNN, since then the venue has been deserted with much of the wood rotting away.
5 Deserted: Italy Ski Jump, 1956 Winter Olympics
Italy hosted the Winter Olympics in 1956 and ski jump was, as always, on the slate of events. It was at these Olympics that the technique used today, with jumpers putting their arms at their side, was first introduced by Swiss jumper, Andreas Dascher.
Today, however, the venue sits empty, with the ski jump tower still standing, but very dangerous for anyone to go up and think of skiing off it.
And the spectator area is worn and broken down, although, it still is a picturesque scene in the Italian landscape.
4 In Use: Athens Panathinaiko Stadium, First Olympics
Athens was hard hit and a lot of their Olympic venues have been left in ruin. But one stadium that has been kept well-renovated is the Panathinaiko Stadium, which has significant meaning since it was where the very first Olympic Games were held.
The stadium itself was built in 144 AD and has been remodeled multiple times and has been used multiple times, including in 2004.
It’s also the last place in Greece for the Olympic flame handover before going on to the host nation site. In 2004, it was the home for archery and the finishing line for the marathon races.
3 Deserted: Athens Beach Volleyball, 2004 Summer Olympics
Athens hosted the Summer Olympics in 2004, despite wanting to host the games when the Olympics turned 100, but the honor was awarded to Atlanta. Since they were the home of the Olympics since the early Greek days, they knew how to put on a successful event and they did so without much issue, except they have left behind many of the venues that are no longer fit for sports.
Pictured is the Olympic Beach Volleyball Center, which today hosts a few concerts and is being turned into a modern outdoor theatre. At least it will be used for something. According to the Baltimore Sun, the Games cost $9 billion to produce.
2 In Use: Beijing Water Cube now a Water Park
The Beijing Water Cube was one of the centerpieces of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. It was the place where Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in one single Olympics, setting the all-time record.
It hosted all the swimming events, and when Beijing hosts the 2020 Winter Games, it will be the home for curling.
But after the Summer Games in 2008, according to People, it was repurposed into a water park. At the height of popularity it had 5,000 visitors a day. The pool may not get that now, but it’s still better than destroying the coolest building from the Olympic Games.
1 Deserted: Sarajevo Bobsleigh, 1984 Winter Games
In 1984, Sarajevo hosted the Olympic Winter Games. At the time, the city was a part of Yugoslavia, but is now the capital of Bosnia. They had a few blunders during the games, including raising the Olympic flag upside down, but the leftover venues haven't received plenty of attention since the Olympics ended, as there are plenty of photos of venues that have long been forgotten.
The picture above shows the bobsleigh track that is now covered in graffiti from top to bottom. Sarajevo went through hard times after the Olympics, to say the least, so it’s no wonder the Olympic venues weren’t kept up.