An abandoned pool from the 1936 Berlin Olympic Village.Gettyimages

These haunting photos of abandoned Olympic sites tell their own stories

From the remains of Berlin's 1936 Games to Rio 2016, these venues are now sad, spooky, and insightful

An image of Ciaran Varley
Ciaran Varley
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The Winter Olympics is almost over. It has been lots of fun. We’ve suffered the heartbreak of Elise Christie’s crash and disqualification, revelled in the glory of Lizzy Yarnold’s success in the skeleton, and felt utter bemusement at trying to work out the actual rules of curling.

It won't come as any surprise to Olympics viewers that hosting a Games is costly. The estimated cost of Pyeongchang has been $12.9 billion.

Often the investment from a Games is used to create an Olympic legacy for the host country, but sometimes sites end up as abandoned ghosts of former tournaments. Here are some of them.

Rio 2016

Opening ceremony, Maracana, Rio 2016Gettyimages

Construction of facilities for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics were costly. According to one estimate, at least $13 billion was spent on building venues for the games. 

This is the Olympic Park, photographed in March 2017.

Rio Olympic villageGettyimages

Months after the games had finished, these photos were taken of the former Rio Media Centre, which had been constructed to host visiting press. 

Rio media centreGettyimages

 This was the Rio Olympic Aquatic Centre, where Britain’s Adam Peaty famously won gold in the 100m breaststroke.

Adam peaty celebrates goldgettyimages

And here’s what it looked like nine months after the games. 

Rio aquatic centre, abandonedGettyimages

Beijing 2008

The Bird's NestGettyimages

The 2008 Olympics in Beijing were a big showpiece, and the opening ceremony was spectacular. The Games cost around £28 billion.

They’re hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022, when the Bird's Nest will be used again.

These photos though, taken in 2016, of fallen Beijing mascots lying prostrate among the overgrowth of a discontinued shopping mall, are absolutely nightmarish.

Here's YingYing.

Abandoned mascot Yingyinggettyimages

 This is Beibei.

Abandoned mascot Beibeigettyimages

And that’s Nini.

Abandoned mascot Ninigettyimages

Torino 2006

Athletes walk through the Olympic village in 2006.

Torino olympic villagegettyimages

Parts of the Olympic village, in 2016, after they were occupied by refugees.

Olympic village, Turin, 2016.gettyimages

Greece 2004

The Summer Olympics of 2004 were estimated to have cost Greece $11 billion.

Athens kayak and slalom centre 2004gettyimages

This was the site in 2012.

Athens kayak and slalom centre 2012gettyimages

Here's the German women’s hockey team celebrating victory in Athens.

German hockey greeceGettyimages

By 2011, that playing surface looked like this.

Greece hockey field in 2011Gettyimages

Sarajevo 1984

The Opening Ceremony at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, former Yugoslavia.

Sarajevo opening ceremony 1984Gettyimages

This is what one of the ski jumps looked like in 2017. A lot of the facilities from the Sarajevo Olympics were left unusable after the Bosnian war that took place between 1992 and 1995.

Ski jump in Sarajevo 2017gettyimages

Here's Anthony Howard of Team GB competing in the Men’s Singles Luge event.

Bobled in Sarajevo 1984gettyimages

 The bobsled track was used during the war to transport weapons.

Bobsled track Sarajevogettyimages

This is Senad Omanovic, the luge coach for Bosnia and Herzegovina, earlier this month at the track. He's been trying to raise funds to reconstruct it.

Senad Omanovic, Luge coachgettyimages

Berlin 1936

The Olympic Village in Berlin, as pictured in 1936. The Village housed athletes for the games, which took place under Nazi rule. Shortly after the Games, parts of the village were used as barracks for the German army.

Berlin Olympic village 1936gettyimages

This is a photo of the site of that village in 2015, where there were plans to restore and rebuild into apartments.

Berlin Olympic village 2015gettyimages

This is the remains of an Olympic swimming pool in Elstal, west of Berlin. After 1945, it served as barracks for Russian officers, until the Russian army's final withdrawal during the nineties.

A pool in the Berlin Olympic villageGettyimages

* This article was updated on 26 February 2018 to reflect the fact that Lizzy Yarnold competed in skeleton, rather than bobsleigh.

Originally published 23 February 2018.