What the abandoned venues from the 2004 Athens Olympics look like now

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 beach volleyball center, where weeds are growing through the sand.

7,000 people watched Misty May and Kerri Walsh win gold here in 2004.

The practice courts outside the stadium are also overgrown.

The Olympic Village, where the athletes like Michael Phelps stayed during the games, is a ghost town.

Source: Telegraph

The original plan was to turn it into public housing after the games.

Source: Telegraph

Thousands of families applied to move in.

Source: Telegraph

But it all went wrong.

Source: Telegraph

A school that authorities promised to build was never constructed, and a bunch of businesses left the area after the Olympics.

Source: Telegraph

By 2011 half the complex had been abandoned.

Source: Telegraph

Copper piping and other things of even remote value were stolen.

Source: Telegraph

The pool is crumbling.

Source: Telegraph

The entrance has been blocked.

Source: Telegraph

The softball stadium is a weed patch.

A worker told the London Evening Stadium in 2012, 'It is not abandoned. It's just that nobody ever plays softball.'

The quote sums up the problem with these stadiums.

The venues are maintained by the government, but there's just no use for them.

No one plays sports like softball or baseball in Greece, let alone pays to watch it.

The baseball stadium has also grown wild.

The 'batter's eye,' which helped hitters see the pitch in 2004, now just flaps in the breeze.

The Canoe/Kayak Slalom Center was once a world-class venue.

It was the first Olympic venue to be filled with salt water instead of fresh water.

Source: NYT

There's now standing water around the venue.

The stands look like ruins.

The massive scoreboard was used for just two weeks.

The nearby rowing center still gets some use, but the scoreboard is toast.

Some venues, like the Olympic Stadium, are still in use. But others haven't seen any action in 10 years.

A practice pool at the Aquatic Center has been drained.

The field hockey arena hasn't been touched.

The scoreboard is empty.

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