Abandoned Olympic Venues Cast Doubt on the Value of Hosting

Though cities hope for an economic boost, these photos show it's far from guaranteed.

Read Time: 1 minute

February 17, 2018, 1:00 PM PST

By Katharine Jose


Brazil Olympics

Andre Luiz Moreira / Shutterstock

There is a vigorous competition between cities that hope to host the Olympic games, in part because the inevitable building boom and influx of visitors are expected to boost the economy. 

But Business Insider has compiled a set of photos from cities that have hosted in the past, and they call into question whether or not the event is, in the long term, a sound investment. 

For example, the expensive gondola that was supposed to bring critical infrastructure to the favelas of Rio de Janiero ceased operations last year, and many of the venues built in Athens have been either abandoned or destroyed. 

There are, of course, non-economic reasons to hold the Olympics. Even though much of the infrastructure is, at best, underused, the 2008 games in Beijing served "as a barely disguised metaphor for this nation’s rise to worldwide importance."  

And the current games in Pyeongchang are both welcomed by the city, and serving a larger political purpose. 

But as Boston's self-withdrawal from consideration as host of the 2024 games implies, some cities are starting to question if the massive effort required to host the Olympics is worth the massive amount of capital required. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018 in Business Insider

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Sharrow bike markings on black asphalt two-lane road with snowy trees

Early Sharrow Booster: ‘I Was Wrong’

The lane marking was meant to raise awareness and instill shared respect among drivers and cyclists. But their inefficiency has led supporters to denounce sharrows, pushing instead for more robust bike infrastructure that truly protects riders.

January 26, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

A tent covered in blue and black tarps sits on a downtown Los Angeles sidewalk with the white ziggurat-topped L.A. City Hall looming in the background

L.A. County Towns Clash Over Homelessness Policies

Local governments often come to different conclusions about how to address homelessness within their respective borders, but varying approaches only exacerbate the problem.

February 3 - Shelterforce Magazine

Rendering of mixed-use development with parks and stormwater retention on former Houston landfill site

A Mixed-Use Vision for Houston Landfill Site

A local nonprofit is urging the city to consider adding mixed-use development to the site, which city officials plan to turn into a stormwater detention facility.

February 3 - Urban Edge

Aerial view of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin at sunset

Milwaukee County Makes Substantial Progress on Homelessness

In 2022, the county’s point-in-time count of unhoused people reflected just 18 individuals, the lowest in the country.

February 3 - Urban Milwaukee