Pathetic remnants of past glory: How Olympics of the past look like today

The Olympic Games are a true symbol of the global unity and celebration of sport. Whenever the International Olympic Committee starts looking for a new venue for this sporting event, all countries are eager to take advantage of this opportunity. The authorities are beginning to modernize existing facilities and build new ones actively.

Unfortunately, at the end of an event so important for everyone, most of them are never used again. Further in the review are some very memorable Olympic venues from past years and how deplorable their condition is today.

Summer Olympics 1936

Swimming pool at the Berlin stadium, 1936.
Swimming pool at the Berlin Stadium, 1936.
Swimming pool at the Berlin stadium, 2015.
Swimming pool at the Berlin Stadium, 2014

Probably the most controversial Olympic Games in human history took place in Berlin during the Third Reich. Adolf Hitler inherited the venue of the Games from the former Weimar Republic. His propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, believed that the event would be just the perfect way to change the world’s opinion of the Nazis.

This was the first time in history that the Olympics were televised. Everything was carried out at the highest level. At the same time, the Olympic torch relay was introduced. To surpass the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, Hitler built many luxurious sports facilities. Among them: an athletics stadium with 100,000 seats, six stadiums, and many sports arenas and halls. The Olympic Village was built in Elstal. There were dorms, a pool, a gym, and a large dining room.

In the beginning, the world wanted to boycott these Olympic Games. The reason was racial and religious persecution in Germany. It was even conceived to hold an alternative Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. Many athletes even managed to arrive at the scene, but then a civil war broke out in Spain. The event had to be canceled. Despite the confrontation of various Jewish organizations around the world, the Olympics still took place in Berlin, the boycott failed. The most titled athlete at these Games was Jesse Owens. He won four medals in the long jump and sprint.

During World War II, almost all buildings were either destroyed or repurposed. Now they are largely abandoned and in varying degrees of dilapidation.

1984 Winter Olympics

The 1984 Winter Olympics were held in Sarajevo. This was the first time that they were held in a country of the socialist camp. The USSR was then the leader in the number of medals but lost first place to the GDR, as they won more gold.

The authorities saw the Olympic Games as a way to breathe life into the city and attract international tourism. For this, the construction of modern sports facilities has been actively started. A new ski complex and a bobsleigh track were built. They were used until the outbreak of the war in Bosnia in 1992.

Olympic Ski Jumping Track
Olympic Ski Jumping Track, 1984.
Olympic Ski Jumping Track
Olympic Ski Jumping Track, 2017

During the hostilities, the former Olympic facilities were badly damaged. They were riddled with bullets. The ski complex was turned into a military facility, and the magnificent bobsleigh track became the position of the Serbian guerrilla artillery.

When the war ended, some sports facilities began to be restored. The International Olympic Committee has rebuilt the city’s stadium in Kosovo. In 2014, volunteers, the National Bobsleigh Federation, and the International Luge Federation began to rebuild the rest.

1996 Summer Olympics

The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta is still considered one of the most extravagant games in Olympic history. Then, quite expectedly, the USA won, winning 101 medals, 44 of which were gold. Those Games were dominated by female athletes. The US women’s basketball team stood out in particular. Sports such as women’s football and softball were included in the competition.

Centenary Olympic Park, 1996
Centenary Olympic Park, 1996.
Centenary Olympic Park, 2005.

The Games began on the 100th anniversary of the first modern Olympic Games. The Olympic flame was lit by boxer Muhammad Ali. The event was overshadowed by the explosion of a homemade bomb in the Olympic Park of the Century. As a result, one civilian was killed, and more than 100 people were injured of varying severity.

The Olympic Games were held at 29 sports venues. Some of them have been rebuilt for college use. The Olympic Village dorms became Georgia State University student dorms and are now used by the Georgia Institute of Technology. The Centennial Olympic Stadium became the base for the Atlanta Braves baseball team from 1997 to 2016.

2004 Summer Olympics

The 2004 Summer Olympic Games were held in their homeland. Greek Athens has become the venue for this important event in the world of sports. For the first time since 1996, representatives of all countries of the National Olympic Committee attended the Olympics. Hosting the Games was seen by the government as an opportunity to change Greece’s international image.

Olympic softball field, 2004.
Olympic softball field, 2004.
Olympic softball field, 2014.
Olympic softball field, 2014.

A completely new infrastructure was created for the preparation – airport, metro, and ring road were built. As time went on, and construction was not completed, fears began to be expressed that the Games would have to be postponed. Some buildings were erected just months before the scheduled start of the Games.

More than a dozen sites are now empty. Some are still used, usually for non-sporting events such as conferences, concerts, and even weddings. Many argue that those games are to blame for the Greek economic crisis.

Summer Olympics 2008

The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing were the first to be held in China. The authorities saw this as a chance to revitalize the country’s image. The government has spent colossal amounts of money on new facilities and transport systems. One of the most iconic of these is Beijing’s National Stadium, nicknamed “Bird’s Nest” for its unique design.

The majestic worker's stadium.
The majestic worker’s stadium.
No less magnificent demolition of the workers' stadium.
No less magnificent demolition of the workers’ stadium.

Numerous calls for a boycott were marked on these games. This was done due to human rights violations in China and the possible consequences for the participants’ health. Such concerns were caused by the extreme air pollution in Beijing, which exceeded all possible standards. Government officials have tried their best to play down these concerns to the point of directing local media outlets to stop political coverage.

While China has won the most gold medals, it was the United States that topped the leaderboard. Top athletes included American swimmer Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals, and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who set many world records.

2014 Winter Olympics

These were the second Olympic Games held in Russia. In 1980, the capital of the USSR, Moscow, hosted the Summer Olympic Games. At the end of the Olympic Games, the Winter Paralympic Games were held at its facilities. In Sochi, 98 sets of medals were played. The Sochi Olympics have become one of the most scandalous in history. Russia won the most medals and became the first in the team event. The result was canceled retroactively due to a doping scandal.

Sochi 2014.
Sochi 2014.
Sochi now
Sochi now

In general, it is clear that the Olympics are a one-off event. It is better to accept this right away and try to develop how you can use the objects left after this sports festival. It is unreasonable to be proud of them and save, spending millions on it. The winners are those who could foresee this.

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