When a city is selected to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, it undertakes a great responsibility to accommodate athletes and their teams, as well as thousands of people at appropriate infrastructures.
Athens, Greece hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2004. It was an event undoubtedly well-organized and appreciated globally. The total cost of the Games reached 8.4 billion Euros according to data from the Greek General Accounting Office. There is currently a discussion happening on whether the Greek State could economically support the Games and whether the Greek Olympic legacy actually helped the economic development of the country.
In the past few years some actions have taken place in Athens concerning Olympic properties:
- ΟΑΚΑ basketball stadium (with the trademark roof designed by the famous architect Santiago Calatrava) and Hellinikon Basketball Stadium are used by basketball clubs;
Part of the International Broadcasting Centre has been transferred to a private company for the next 40 years and has become a luxury shopping mall.
Other examples of positive post-Olympic legacy is that Athens has a metro system, which is one of the best in Europe, and its new Airport "El. Venizelos."
However, it’s a fact that there are Olympic infrastructures of 2004 which remain unused and damage increases as time passes. Two important reasons: improper initial planning and expensive maintenance.
Unfortunately, this situation affects Greek athletes’ training. It becomes very difficult for them to compete at the highest level and to cope with high championship requirements. The Olympic Taekwondo and Handball Arena, the Beach Volleyball Stadium, and the Softball Venue are some of the underused facilities.
Abandoned post-Olympic venues exist in several cities that hosted the Olympics in previous years. Munich, Beijing, and Sarajevo are among them.
In post-Olympic London, efforts are taking place in order to secure the future of the sport facilities constructed for the summer events of 2012. For example, it is noteworthy that the British aim to implement an important change in urban planning: to shift the East End onto a more equal footing with the rest of the city. Let’s hope that we won’t see neglected stadiums in the UK capital or at Rio de Janeiro after the Olympics of 2016.
Do you think that the Olympic Games are a chance for urban reformation? How can we use the post-olympic infrastructure to our benefit?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.