Rio’s Fancy Olympic Venues Are Left To Rot Only Six Months After Hosting The Games

Only months after hosting the Summer Olympics, Rio’s multi-billion dollar sporting facilities have been left to rot and ruin.

By Jeff Vasishta February 17, 2017
Photo courtesy of Pilar Olivares via Business Insider

The Rio Olympics has just set another world record—the shortest time for an Olympic venue to turn to ruin after hosting the Games. After spending around $4.6 billion plus an estimated $1.6 billion in budget overages, according to reports by the Financial Times and Quartz, the celebrated sites now lie abandoned as if years rather months has passed since their glory days.

Out of all recent Olympic sites—Athens, Bejing and London—only East London’s Stratford facilities are still being used and are updated in good working order. The Olympic Stadium is now home to Premier League West Ham United football club. What makes the Rio sites so heartbreaking is their very recent use and sudden demise. Sloppy business practices and lack of organization are to blame.

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The famed Maracana stadium has been closed to tourists due to a dispute between the stadium operators, the Rio state government, and Olympic organizers over $1 million in unpaid electricity bills and management of the venue, The Guardian reports. The renovation of the iconic stadium cost $400 million. Since the Olympics and Paralympics, its use has been sporadic and vandals have broken in ripping up thousands of seats.

The demise of the stadium is particularly painful given its storied past and the exalted position soccer holds in Brazil.

“The Maracana is the biggest symbol of the way the games were managed,” said Mauricio Santora, a political scientist at Rio de Janeiro State University. “The vast majority of people in Rio will never go to the golf course, or the Olympic venues. But the Maracana is different. It’s the jewel of the crown.”

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Equally hard to fathom is total neglect of the once pristine aquatics center. It’s almost as if such degradation could have only happened with vandals or a demolition crew. Mud, rainwater, and dead insects have made the practice pool a soupy, swampy rust bowl.

If Brazil could let the Maracana rot, there wasn’t much hope for the $16 million golf course which had problems attracting players to join in order to maintain the facilities. Equally the pre-fab houses next to it, run by the Brazilian Golf Confederation, are now abandoned.

“Abandonment, a disregard for public money for the visitors who come here and want to see it used,” said spectator Wanderson Wygers to a Rio newspaper, Globo, when she saw the state of The Olympic Park upon showing up for a beach volleyball event, held on a sanded over tennis court. She could have well been talking about the entire facility.


Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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