Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Greek tragedy: How Greece’s Olympic legacy lies in ruins

  • Written by  Amrita Carroll
  • Published in Cultures
Greek tragedy: How Greece’s Olympic legacy lies in ruins
02 Aug
2016
In the run up to the Rio Olympics, the legacy of the £6billion 2004 Athens Olympics has been laid bare in these revealing images

Pictures show how Greece’s Olympic park, once brimming with people and enthusiasm for sport, now lies crumbling and desolate. From the velodrome to the swimming pool, it is clear that the multi-billion pound developments have not been beneficial for the local community 12 years on from the world event. It is feared Rio’s sporting legacy could produce a similar white elephant in the years after it hosts the world.

Freelance journalist Brecht De Vleeschauwer from Belgium travelled to Athens to document the condition of the legacy in the nation which invented the Olympics over two and a half thousand years ago.

‘I had been reading about Olympic infrastructure, so I got curious and decided to go to Greece,’ said Brecht. ‘I also had a weird fascination for any kind of sport infrastructure and abandoned places. What I saw when I went there was bad management and wasted investment. Local people that I spoke to seemed to think it’s a shame, but in the end they don’t care very much anymore as Greece is currently facing other problems. But of course the Olympic money contributed to the bigger economic problem in Greece.’

The Greek Summer Olympics of 2004 cost an estimated six billion pounds. 28 sports were represented at over 35 bespoke venues. A total of 301 medal ceremonies took places over a 16-day period. 10,500 athletes took part in the games from 201 National Olympic Committees. 45,000 people were volunteers throughout the games.

‘There is a kind of injustice that I felt when taking these pictures. The Olympics in Greece was supposed to be the realisation of a romantic dream harking back to Athens and to the “roots” of the Olympics,’ said Brecht. ‘Olympic investments are always presented as beneficial for all, but if we see this kind of scenes we can think twice.’

Related items

Subscribe to Geographical!

Geographical Week

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

University of Winchester

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Human Game – Tackling football’s ‘slave trade’
    Few would argue with football’s position as the world’s number one sport. But as Mark Rowe discovers, this global popularity is masking a sinister...
    Essential oil?
    Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many circles it is considered the scourge of the natural world, for the deforestation and habita...
    When the wind blows
    With 1,200 wind turbines due to be built in the UK this year, Mark Rowe explores the continuing controversy surrounding wind power and discusses the e...
    The green dragon awakens
    China has achieved remarkable economic success following the principle of developing first and cleaning up later. But now the country with the world's...
    Mexico City: boom town
    Twenty years ago, Mexico City was considered the ultimate urban disaster. But, recent political and economic reforms have transformed it into a hub of...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PEOPLE...

Development

The ‘golden triangle’ switches from growing opium crops to coffee

I’m a Geographer

Fearghal O’Nuallain is a geography teacher and explorer. His edited…

Explorers

In the Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat, new measures to…

Cultures

The small southern African nation of Eswatini has a rich…

Development

Many countries that are classified as being ‘not high income’…

Development

As part of our monthly series of reports looking at…

Explorers

Fifty years since the great Blue Nile was first traversed,…

Explorers

When author Lydia Syson set a historical novel on a…

Development

A new vaccination strategy aims to eradicate peste de petits…

Development

Over 100 years have passed since São Tomé could claim…

Cultures

As one of the biggest displays of Caribbean culture in…

Development

After 130 years in the diamond industry De Beers recently…

Explorers

From Calcutta to the Himalayas, in The Last Englishmen, author…

Development

As part of our monthly series of reports looking at…

Development

Using WhatsApp to monitor and predict deadly landslides in Colombian…

Explorers

During her time in Ghana, Sarah Begum experienced the lives…

Development

An investigation reveals how the illegal export of talc, used…

Cultures

Land rights for the indigenous are still a problem, but…

Development

New statistics suggest rising healthy lifespans in China, at the…