The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

February 24, 2014

Hosts' real Olympic challenge: after the games

LONDON (AP) — For athletes and spectators at Sochi, it's time to pack up. But for the host cities, the real challenge begins with the end of the Olympics. How do they continue to use the expensive stadiums after the party's over? What happens to the athletes' villages? What is the legacy of the games?

Here's a look at what some past Summer and Winter Games sites around the world look like post-Olympics.

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LONDON, 2012

London continues to bask in the success of the most recent Summer Games, but the Olympic legacy is difficult to determine.

The flagship venue, renamed the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, is being converted into a massive park as big as London's famous Hyde Park, complete with wildlife habitats, woods and sports facilities. The first part of the ambitious project will begin to open to the public in April.

The 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium at the center of the park has been troubled by controversy since even before the games, and its post-games use was the subject of months of legal wrangling. The stadium is now being converted into a soccer venue and the home of the West Ham soccer club, with an expected price tag of $323 million. Many argue taxpayers should not have to fund a Premier League club, though officials insist that the stadium will continue to host other major sporting events, including the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

The athletes' village is still being transformed into the rustic-sounding neighborhoods of East Wick and Sweetwater, but there are already signs that the process will yield less housing than originally pledged. Other promises, like the Olympic Museum due to open this year, have simply been quietly dropped.

There's no doubt that the Olympics improved public transport in the city's East End, historically a deprived, industrial area poorly served by commuter links.

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