Urban exploration and abandoned buildings go hand in hand, and there are no better-abandoned places quite like sporting venues. While places like the United States tend to demolish or repurpose sporting venues, many other countries leave their venues to be taken back by nature. This is especially true for the Olympics, which have a lot of niche sports in countries that don’t excel in them.
For every Los Angeles, California there’s an Athens, Greece that doesn’t take full advantage of the venues that were built. If you’re an urban explorer and want to see some great abandoned Olympic venues, check out these five cities around the world.
1. Sarajevo, Bosnia
The capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina was awarded the 1984 Winter Olympics, and at the time, put on a masterclass on how to hold an event. Things went great for the Olympics, but the venues wouldn’t hold up for very long. That’s because the Bosnian War broke out less than a decade later, lasting for over three years.
The country became torn by the war, and the venues that were still standing from the Olympics were mostly destroyed, while others were left standing and simply abandoned. The ski jump area serves as a monument to what was once a great moment in time for Bosnia while the bobsled track has been graffitied multiple times over.
2. Athens, Greece
The 2004 Summer Olympics were a big deal for the games as they returned to Athens, Greece, the home of the Olympiad. To get the city ready for the Olympics, Athens built several new venues and went into tremendous debt so that everything was sparkling and brand new. While some of the venues are still being used, there were many that were left abandoned.
Some of the areas that have been completely abandoned include the softball stadium, field hockey center, and canoe/kayak venue where it’s hard to tell what events even took place there. The economic situation in Greece following the Olympics caused many of these venues to fall into shambles.
3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro became a surprise choice for the 2016 Summer Olympics and the country of Brazil quickly had to construct several new venues that included a 16,000 seat basketball arena and even a golf course. Many temporary venues were also erected, but many were left to the elements just a few months after the Olympic closing ceremonies.
The Olympic Aquatics Stadium looked like it had been abandoned for years by the time 2017 came around with the lights turned out and the pool drained. The beach volleyball stadium became overgrown with seats quickly collapsing. Brazil also hosted the World Cup for soccer around the same time and had similar problems with maintaining venues.
4. Beijing, China
China had a huge coming out party to the world when the country was chosen to host the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The city was awarded the games in 2001, giving them plenty of time to build new venues. It cost almost $2 billion for China to construct the venues, some of which are still in use.
Beijing, which also hosted the 2022 Winter Olympics, left many of its summer venues behind, especially the beach volleyball stadium. While the interior seats are still fine, the field is overgrown and the exterior is covered in layers of grime. Some of the venues have been totally reclaimed by nature after being blocked off to the public and never reopened.
5. Berlin, Germany
In 1936, Germany hosted the Summer Olympics in what then-leader Adolf Hitler considered to be a showcase of Nazism. The venues for the most part were at least partially destroyed as World War II followed shortly after the Olympics, especially the Olympic Village.
The standing venues have been mostly abandoned and serve as a harsh reminder for the German people. Venues like the swimming center and Village are worn down while Olympiastadion is still standing and frequently used after undergoing several renovations.