Olympics 2021: Abandoned Games venues that time has forgotten

·Sports Editor
·3-min read

For two weeks each Olympic cycle, the world watches on as the host city stages sport's biggest extravaganza.

It naturally costs billions as stadiums are built, athletes' villages are erected and host cities are given a spruced-up makeover.

But what happens when it's all over and cities have gone back to normal? Well, Olympic venues are often left abandoned and decaying over the years.

From Sarajevo in 1984 to Rio in 2016, we take a look at some of the abandoned venues that time has forgotten.

1984 Olympics – Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - MAY 20: A view from the mostly abandoned Olympic Aquatics stadium at the Olympic Park on May 20, 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In the nine months after the Olympic games, very few events have been organised in the Olympic Park venues. The Olympic Aquatics stadium was to be dismantled, but it continues abandoned with no obvious signs of dismantlement. In addition, numerous areas of standing water can be found inside and outside the venue in the former official and training pools, making them dengue and zika risk areas. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
A view inside the mostly abandoned Olympic aquatics stadium nine months after the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina, then part of Yugoslavia, played host to the Winter Olympics in 1984.

Less than 10 years later, most of the Games' venues had been destroyed in Bosnia's war between 1992 and 1995.

A ski jump, accommodation for athletes and a number of hotels were left in ruins and never rebuilt.

One of the podiums was reportedly used as a place to execute Bosnian Muslims, while a hotel has since been turned into a prison.

TO GO WITH STORY BY RUSMIR SMAJILHODZIC - A picture taken on February 5, 2014 shows Sarajevo's abandoned  Sarajevo's bob sleigh track near Sarajevo. Built and used as an Olympic venue during Sarajevo's 1984 Winter Olympic Games, the track was heavily damaged during Bosnia's 1992-95 war. It was never rebuilt and it's large concrete fragments remain standing as a memento of past and training ground for young generations of graffiti artists.  AFP PHOTO ELVIS BARUKCIC / AFP / ELVIS BARUKCIC        (Photo credit should read ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP via Getty Images)
Sarajevo's Olympic bob sleigh track was heavily damaged during Bosnia's 1992-95 war. It was never rebuilt and is now a training ground for young graffiti artists. (Elvis Barukcic/AFP via Getty Images)

Watch: Before and after pictures show the billion pound stadiums left to rot

2004 Olympics – Athens, Greece

Greece reportedly spent $11.9bn on hosting the Games in 2004 – 108 years after doing so in 1896 for the first Olympics of modern times.

But the country's well-documented economic crises mean a number of venues have been left to rot.

The official Games village is now covered in graffiti and completely trashed, and there is no money to invest in rebuilding.

The former Olympic Village in Athens, Greece. (Milos Bicanski/Getty Images
The former Olympic Village in Athens, Greece. (Milos Bicanski/Getty Images
The cost of hosting the Athens Olympics was estimated at approximately €9bn. (Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)
The cost of hosting the Athens Olympics was estimated at approximately €9bn. (Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)
ATHENS, GREECE - JULY 31: General view of the Olympic Softball stadium at the Helliniko Olympic complex in Athens, Greece on July 31, 2014. Ten years ago the XXVIII Olympiad was held in Athens from the 13th - 29th August with the motto
The Olympic softball stadium at the Helliniko Olympic complex in Athens. (Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

2008 Olympics – Beijing, China

The Beijing Olympics reportedly cost over $47bn, but 13 years later, you can't really tell where the money went.

A beach volleyball stadium is disused and dilapidated, with grass covering the sand.

Some of the official Games mascots were later spotted lying among trees behind an abandoned, never-completed mall.

Countless blocks of ancient homes were bulldozed in a building frenzy before the Games.

Nini (L) and Yingying, two of the five mascots for the Beijing Olympics, lie among trees behind an abandoned, never-completed mall. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)
Nini (L) and Yingying, two of the five mascots for the Beijing Olympics, lie among trees behind an abandoned, never-completed mall. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)
Grass is seen growing in the beach volleyball stadium built for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)
Grass is seen growing in the beach volleyball stadium built for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)
The beach volleyball stadium now lies rotting and disused. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)
The beach volleyball stadium now lies rotting and disused. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

2016 Olympics – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio's Olympic Aquatics stadium now looks completely dilapidated after plans to demolish it fell through.

The city's Olympic Park is completely abandoned, except for the stray dogs that are often spotted roaming around.

Basketball courts, football fields and a skate park that were installed for locals to enjoy after the Games are now completely disused.

A judge has since ordered the closure of the Olympic Park due to safety concerns.

A view of the mostly abandoned aquatics stadium at the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
A view of the mostly abandoned aquatics stadium at the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
The Olympic aquatics stadium was abandoned with no obvious signs of dismantlement. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
The Olympic aquatics stadium was abandoned with no obvious signs of dismantlement. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Dogs walk through the abandoned Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Dogs walk through the abandoned Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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