Every two years, the world comes together either in winter or in summer to celebrate our most gifted athletes in the largest global sports competition known to man.
The tradition dates back to ancient times, but each year it becomes ever bigger and better, with more records broken and an increasing number of new athletes—and even new nations—competing. Countries learn they will have the honor of hosting the event years in advance, and the final months of preparation are covered extensively by media from around the globe as the excitement becomes palpable in all competing nations. From the final prep to the arrival of the athletes and the Parade of Nations—all leading up to the Opening Ceremony—Olympics go down in people’s memories as enormous celebrations of physical and mental accomplishments, symbols of the amazing things humans are capable of.
For the hosting cities and countries, the months and weeks surrounding and during the Games are enormously significant, a chance for the outside world to see the culture and natural beauty of the host, its peoples, and its territories. Most of these cities will never have experienced such press or have been so in the limelight as they are because of the Olympics, and the biggest challenge of all is that they are ready to handle the pressure that comes with it.
But after the torch is extinguished and the excitement and hullabaloo fade away, what’s left? Host countries have notoriously spent billions upon billions of dollars preparing for the Olympic Games, only to be left with vast fields and stadiums of waste once the competition is over.
Did you watch the Rio Olympics back in summer 2016? Remember all the glitz, glamor, and new infrastructure? Here’s what it looks like now…
Rio’s storied Maracanã stadium was the largest of its kind at the time of its inauguration in 1950. The stadium was originally built to host the 1950 World Cup. Brazil was beaten 2-1 by Uruguay in the deciding game in front of nearly 200,000 spectators.
Today, it’s the second-largest stadium in South America and has hosted numerous international tournaments such as the 2014 World Cup and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. It’s usually used for soccer games, but sometimes there are other events hosted there.
The venue has been renovated three times in 2000, 2006, and 2013. Most recently, there were 78,838 new seats added in preparation for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup. The stadium is so large that there’s a second one right next to it called the “Maracanãzinho,” or “The Little Maracanã.”
After the special focus given to the stadium for these global events, the field has fallen back into its regular cycle of maintenance and even of disrepair. The well-used field is hardly green anymore. It all just looks like one muddy soccer game to me. There are still tons of soccer games hosted here, but it’s no secret they aren’t taking care of it as much as they used to. The games aren’t being played on a worldwide stage anymore, so why should they take care of it like the whole world is watching, right? After all, when everyone is judging your country you probably want everything to look as good as possible.
This cool aerial view will give you a pretty good understanding of how the stadium isn’t taken care of the way it used to be.
Media No More
The Rio Olympics Media Center was a hub built specifically for the games, but the edifice quickly fell into disrepair once the crowds and press were gone. Back when the center was first built, it was constructed so that over 6,000 media journalists could stay there and us the facilities. Since the Olympics are now long gone, there weren’t many people who needed to use it.
The center was later demolished, but its rubble and debris still remained in downtown Rio for months where it became a health hazard and breeding ground for mosquitos. This photo was taken from the rubble, and you can still see a pamphlet for the 2016 Olympics stuck right in the middle of all the mess.