Lonely Planet Writer

Ghosts of Olympic stadiums past: what happens when the Games are all over?

The 2016 Olympics in Rio are in full swing, having brought the world’s sporting elite to compete at a range of purpose-built stadiums and arenas.

Sarajevo's abandoned Bob Sleigh Track from the 1984 Winter Olympic Games.
Sarajevo’s abandoned Bob Sleigh Track from the 1984 Winter Olympic Games.  Image by Getty Images

But what happens to the venues when the games finish and the crowds leave the host city? Lonely Planet Travel News has compiled a list of what some of the former Summer and Winter Olympic venues look like today.

Sochi Winter Olympics 2014

Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi was used in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi. Image by Alexxx Malev / CC BY 2.0

The Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi was used for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and is still standing today. It is currently undergoing renovations in preparation for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.

London Summer Olympics 2012

The London Olympic Stadium in Stratford.
The London Olympic Stadium in Stratford. Image by Matt Buck / CC BY 2.0

Following the London Olympics, the Olympic stadium was converted into a multi-use facility and English Premiership team, West Ham United Football Club, have just made the stadium their new home.

Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010

The Richmond Olympic Oval in Vancouver.
The Richmond Olympic Oval in Vancouver. Image by Thomas Chung / CC BY 2.0

The Richmond Olympic Oval in Vancouver was built for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and was used as a speed skating rink. Following that is was reconfigured to be used as a community multi-sport park that is still in use today.

Beijing Summer Olympics 2008

The Beijing National Stadium or "Bird's Nest" as it has become known.
The Beijing National Stadium or “Bird’s Nest” as it has become known. Image by Thomas Bachinger

The stunning Beijing National Stadium or “Bird’s Nest” was used for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games in a project that saw international architects working with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Although the stadium is still standing today and is used for football matches, it has been reported that it has suffered from high maintenance costs following the end of the games. However, the city has been chosen to host the 2022 Winter Games which will see it reusing some existing structures.

China has faced problems finding new uses for all of the former Olympic venues from the Beijing Summer Games.
China has faced problems finding new uses for all of the former Olympic venues from the Beijing Summer Games. Image by Getty Images

Many sites lie uncompleted or derelict in Olympic host cities. Taken last month, the above image shows Beibei, one of five mascots for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It lies face down amongst trees behind an abandoned, never-completed mall in Beijing.

Athens Summer Olympics 2004

The Faliro Olympic Complex in Athens has suffered from disrepair since the games.
The Faliro Olympic Complex in Athens has suffered from disrepair since the games. Image by Getty Images

Many of the venues from the Athens Summer Games have unfortunately suffered by falling into disrepair and ruin. The former Olympic village shows the ghostly remains of abandoned areas that were once filled with cheering crowds. The Beach Volleyball Stadium at the Faliro Olympic Complex, the Hellinikon Complex and the Aquatic Centre are also currently derelict.

The Olympic Baseball Stadium at the Hellinikon Olympic complex in Athens.
The Olympic Baseball Stadium at the Hellinikon Olympic complex in Athens. Image by Getty Images
The Olympic Aquatic Center in Athens, Greece.
The Olympic Aquatic Centre in Athens, Greece. Image by Getty Images

Lillehammer Winter Olympics 1994

Lysgardsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena in Lillyhammer, Norway.
Lysgardsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena in Lillyhammer, Norway. Image by Alexander Eriksson / CC BY-NC 2.0

The Lysgardsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena that was used in the Lillehammer Winter Olympics Games back in 1994 is still in use, having recently hosted the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics.

Sarajevo Winter Olympics 1984

Partially rebuilt winner’s podium of at Mount Igman near Sarajevo.
Partially rebuilt winner’s podium of at Mount Igman near Sarajevo. Image by Getty Images

Like Athens, many venues of the Sarajevo Winter Games venues have fallen into ruin and disrepair. Built for use as an Olympic venue during for the games in 1984 , places such as the Olympic Ski Jumping Venue at Mount Igman near Sarajevo and the Trebevic Bobsleigh and Luge Track were heavily damaged during the Bosnian war in the early 90’s, and were never rebuilt.