This Is What Happened To 8 Famous Abandoned Olympic Venues After The Games Ended

Ever since the introduction of the modern Olympics, we have seen a whopping 49 summer and winter Olympic games, held across the world in 41 cities. Some of these events were fantastic successes. Others, less so, leaving tired and abandoned Olympic venues in their wake.

Researches looking at the data have said for years that cities that host huge sports events like the Olympics typically spend far more than they had expected to, while simultaneously making far less. The argument often put forward by host nations is that spending on the Olympics will generally lead to long-term economic advantages and improved infrastructure. More often than not, this doesn’t prove to be the case. More often than not, the economic advantages are debatable and the improved infrastructure looks more like old, abandoned Olympic venues.

Two photographers and artists, Gary Huswit and Jon Pack embarked on a mission to capture exactly what happens to these abandoned Olympic venues long after the closing ceremony is a quiet, distant memory.

The photographers explored and photographed what look like the ancient ruins of once grand Olympic features in 13 cities around the world. Their photos, which are collected in a fantastic book called “The Olympic City,” document the varied relics left behind after the Olympics.

“We’re interested in the idea of government-approved spending — and these are huge amounts of money — to build massive structures, some of it temporary, all to host an event that will only last a couple of weeks … Are [the people] benefiting from having been a part of the Olympics? Are the games a point of pride or regret?”

It turns out that certain venues stood up rather well to time, specifically by adopting new roles. However, more often than not, the structures and buildings fell to disarray and ruin after years of not seeing any use.

View images of abandoned Olympic venues:


Several architectural pieces that were specifically built for the Olympics have been elegantly incorporated into the surrounding landscape. The Montjuïc Communications Tower, pictured here, stands to this day in a Barcelona Olympic Park. The building, created for the 1992 Summer Games, was originally built to beam the TV coverage out to the world. It continues to send out TV signals today and is still a arresting addition to the Barcelona skyline.

abandoned olympic venues montjuic communications tower in barcelona

Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit

Other abandoned Olympic buildings were repurposed. These 16-story apartment blocks were originally built as athlete accommodation at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. 18 of them were built, although very few were ever used, due to a US-led boycott of the games. Subsequently, they have been converted into permanent residences for employees of the state.

abandoned olympic site former athlete accommodation for 1980 moscow olympic games

Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit

Likewise, the Olympic Village originally built for the Rome Summer Olympics of 1960 was also transformed into residential properties. However, like many of these abandoned Olympic sites, they have lately descended into a state of disrepair.

athlete residences from rome olympics of 1960

Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit

Also built for the 1960 games in Rome, the Rose Pool has been adapted into a massive athletics centre. One of the success stories of abandoned Olympic venues, the pool offers not just athletic competitions, but lessons for beginner swimmers and summer camps for children.

rose pool rome olympic pool

Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit

Some of the sites have had all activities or uses completely suspended. Almost a decade after the Sarajeco Winter Olympics, the Igman Ski Jumps and the surrounding area because a fierce battleground during the Siege of Sarajevo. Things ultimately became so dire that the medal podium was used for executions.

Olympic ski jumps from the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics

Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit

Pictured here, a huge wall built as a barrier to prevent the jump being used. The jump still bears the famous Olympic logo.

abandoned olympic building sarajevo winter olympics ski jump ruin

Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit

Here we see the site of the abandoned Olympic Village built for the Berlin Olympics, in 1936, These where the games where Jesse Owens famously won four gold medals under the infuriated eye of Adolph Hitler. The village stands today, completely abandoned and covered in graffiti. That is, except Jesse Owens’ dormitory, which has been lovingly restored and can be viewed by the public.

jesse owens dorm at berlin olympic village

Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit

Originally built in Compton, Los Angeles for the LA Olympic games in 1984, the Jesse Robinson Olympic Park still remains. However, the abandoned Olympic Park has clearly fallen into a state of disrepair and disarray.

jesse robinson olympic park in compton los angeles for 1984 olympic games

Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit

Site of the first modern Olympic games in 1896, these facilities were built for the more modern 2004 Summer Olympics. Athens has watched it’s once remarkable Olympic constructions fall to pieces lately.

athens olympic structures are falling into ruin

If you were as fascinated by these images as we were, be sure to grab yourself a copy of the fantastic book, The Olympic City.