Ten years later, the 2004 Athens Olympics is a cautionary tale.
Greece spent an estimated $US11 billion on the games, Reuters reports. They 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. — and went 97% over budget in the process.
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.
Many of these stadiums have become white elephants. The Olympic Village is empty and the venues for softball, beach volleyball, and kayaking are all overrun with weeds.
With the IOC now struggling to find countries with enough money to waste on the Olympics, 2004 might be viewed as 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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