One Year Later, Rio’s Olympic Buildings Are Just Abandoned


A stunning report out of ESPN shows the effects of last year’s Olympics on host city Rio de Janiero.

While the Olympics are quadrennially hailed for the technological innovations they bring about, what remains afterwards is often, to quote ESPN, “a perfect storm of unfulfilled promises.” It goes on:

“While 15 of the original 27 venues have hosted some sort of event since the Games, others sit largely abandoned. Their decay and disrepair a constant reminder of what this mean to be. Even the iconic soccer stadium, the Maracanã, has been vandalized, and had its power shut off completely after amassing a $950,000 electric bill.”

An abandoned lot near what was the Olympic Village.

Arena after arena remains dormant. Handball courts that need to turn into schools remain empty handball courts. Swimming pools in poor parts of Rio known as favelas lie covered in “bugs, mud, and rodent feces.”

Claudia Rodrigues carries copper wire she burned to recycle in the Metro-Mangueira ‘favela’ community. The Olympics forced a relocation of many in the area, close to Maracana stadium.

The waste cuts through economic barriers as well. The Olympic Village, home to some of the world’s most elite Tinder swipes, need to be replace into luxury condos. In fact, nothing has changed.


A worker arrives at a Companhia Estadual de Aguas e Esgotos (CEDAE) plant, built to help maintain the Olympic Village. The luxury apartments that who are promise have yet to arrive.

Rio’s stagnation is a failure of infrastructure on a massive scale. While complacency may seem natural, it takes events like massive corruption, a devastating recession, and worsening civil liberties all played an active role in keep Rio from improving itself. Critics claim that these problems were going fast forward by the Olympics, or at best, the substantial two week event make politicians to ignore worsening problems.

Rio is not the only city to see its Olympic monuments fall into disuse and disrepair. Greece’s Olympic stadia have practically joined the Parthenon as relics, but with less romance. While England has been more successful in using its Olympic infrastructure after 2012, a study out of the London School of Economics showed that “the Games show no effect on subjective wellbeing a year later.”

Now that the Olympics are coming back to Los Angeles for a third time, the city will hope to buck the trend against the historic evidence. It has until 2028, but organizers should look at these photos every day as a reminder until then.

Source: ESPN