When the Olympics Games end the structures built to host them are often re-purposed, demolished, or left abandoned after the closing ceremony. Olympic villages are most often converted into housing, stadiums taken over by local sports teams. In the case of the Winter Olympics, many event-specific constructions like the bobsleigh track can’t be used for anything else but Sarajevo‘s leftover 1984 course was used to host the Luge World Cup – until it became a front in the 1991 Bosnian War.
Carefully walking around the main grounds (the surrounding woods are still heavily mined) in a small park area near one of the largest track turns it’s easy to imagine why the invading Serbian army chose this high point behind concrete barrier to shell Bosnia and Herzegovina‘s capital from for nearly 4 years. Inside the remaining walkable parts of the bobsleigh track you can still see marks left by bullets and holes drilled out for sniper rifles.
Very little of the original structure is left, most of it destroyed by war while the rest is slowly being devoured by the forest. In the meantime, teenagers drink nearby while those of varying artistic ability leave their painted mark on the exposed track.
A youth vastly different than that of my guide from HYH City Tour (which I highly recommend) who, only a few years older than me, lost his childhood to smuggling food and supplies into Sarajevo under siege. Optimistically though we move on to Sarajevo’s former Olympic stadium where the next generation conditions their footballing legs in today what is one of Europe’s safest countries. The 2017 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival will be held in Sarajevo where Torvill and Dean recently returned to the same rink 30 years after achieving the only perfect skating score in Olympic history. Given the passion and people who brought me to Sarajevo that have bid to re-host the games twice in the past 6 years, I won’t be surprised when the Olympics returns to its mountainous landscape.
There’s something really thrilling about abandoned places. This one didn’t seem to scary though, judging from your pictures. Anyway looking forward to their next olympics, really beautiful landscape.
It’s more eerie than anything, not very scary at all.
All of this money is spent for each Olympics, creating suitable venues in each location for each Olympics, and then many of them end up wasted or abandoned. I have heard talk recently from the International Olympic Committee that perhaps in the future a permanent site will be built…it would certainly be a lot less wasteful (I have heard, too, that many of these Olympic cities anticipate more financial gains than they actually get and that often, it isn’t enough to offset what was spent.)
Having a single location seems more logical but I don’t think the vested financial interests would let it happen at the moment. Given the reduction of potential Winter Olympic game venues due to changing weather however it may be forced some time in the future:
The perception of the Olympics Games as drivers for local economies really changed with the Los Angeles games; but they didn’t build any new venues. Like you say, most places gain prestige perhaps (let’s see how much tourism to Sochi increases next year) but usually don’t see a lot in direct profits.
Don’t forget how much income the Olympics brings in (tourism to the country).. I myself like the idea of them being in different places, I know there’s a lot of waste, but sometimes you have to sit back and appreciate the games as what they were once created for and forget the politics for 5 minutes 🙂
Actually, the evidence that hosting the Olympics increases tourism revenue isn’t strong at all:
Though I like the idea of hosting in multiple cities. I would say select cities keeping in mind to use as much existing infrastructure as possible. That’s what the Los Angeles games did and was considered a big success. Though there are many that believe the Olympics committee prefers places that need lots of development in the interest of their own pockets.
Abandoned old structures like this are interesting to begin with, but this place has such an interesting history. It must really make you think about the war being there. Great photos!
There a several places in Sarajevo that really bring the war to your mind’s eye but this one had a strange irony because it was so bright but sad at the same time.
Have been in Sarajevo before but missed this place. Nice pictures and definitely a weird place from your pictures.
It’s worth the trip if you ever go back to the area or Sarajevo.