The 2004 Athens Olympics went nearly $US15 billion over its initial $US1.6 billion budget, according to economists professor Andrew Zimbalist, who wrote a book on the true cost of hosting large sporting events.
The majority of the cost overruns fell on the Greek government, which built all the expensive, highly specific buildings you need to host the Olympics — a village, a media center, an Olympic stadium, a canoe/kayak slalom center, etc.
When the athletes went home at the end of August 2004, organisers learned a cruel lesson — Athens has absolutely no use for a canoe/kayak slalom center.
Amid an economic crisis that has seen other parts of the city diminished, many of these 2004 stadiums have long since become white elephants. As these photos from 2014 show, the Olympic Village is empty, and the venues for softball, beach volleyball, and kayaking are all overrun with weeds.
With Greece unable to pay its debts and the IOC now struggling to find countries willing to host the Olympics, 2004 might be viewed as one of the last Olympics of an era when democratic nations saw the games as a worthwhile investment.
The Olympic Village, where the athletes like Michael Phelps stayed during the games, is a ghost town.
A school that authorities promised to build was never constructed, and a bunch of businesses left the area after the Olympics.
A worker told the London Evening Stadium in 2012, 'It is not abandoned. It's just that nobody ever plays softball.'
Some venues, like the Olympic Stadium, are still in use. But others haven't seen any action in 10 years.
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