From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

Olympic Venues After the Games

The fate of the structures left standing once the torches go out.

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Montreal, 1976: Once known as The Big O, Montreal’s Olympic stadium is more commonly referred to as The Big Owe by local taxpayers. The Games reportedly cost Montreal $1.48 billion, and the city paid back the crushing debt only in 2006.

Sarajevo, 1984: Zetra Olympic Ice Hall, which hosted the closing ceremonies, was almost completely destroyed by bombs and fire in 1992 and served as a makeshift morgue. It was rebuilt in 1997 as an outdoor stadium but has yet to regain its former glory.

Athens, 2004: In 2004, Athens constructed a stadium worthy of Greece’s status as birthplace of the Games. Once an architectural marvel with a retractable glass roof, it has been left to rust, with weeds creeping in and trash littering the ground.

Beijing, 2008: The iconic, reportedly $423 million Bird’s Nest Stadium by Herzog & De Meuron now sits empty. After a number of failed schemes to make the venue profitable, the current attraction is a Segway track circling the stadium’s interior, where rides cost $20.

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