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

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

LATEST HEADLINES

Subscribe to Geographical!

University of Winchester

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Winchester

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...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    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...

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...

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…

Cultures

The addition of traditional Māori names to Wellington’s urban landscape is…

Cultures

Native American communities in the US are devising their own…

Refugees

Calais’ continuing refugee crisis may not make daily headlines now…

I’m a Geographer

With fellow student Tom Micklethwait, Charles is travelling the route…

Development

As part of our monthly series of reports looking at…

Development

Few would argue with football’s position as the world’s number…

Explorers

For British cave divers, Chris Jewell and Jim Warny, who…

Cultures

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that football…

Development

A German recycling scheme is proving to be a source…

Development

The Galápagos are often thought of as a unique natural…

Development

China’s ban on plastic imports will displace more than 110…

Cultures

If you think you can escape the ballyhoo of the…