The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

February 24, 2014

Hosts' real Olympic challenge: after the games

(Continued)

But other venues have withered in neglect. A rowing park in the city's suburbs that cost $55 million has fallen into disuse, and visitors to this paid facility are few and far between. The cycling race tracks in another outlying district are covered in weeds, and the sand volleyball courts have been largely closed off to the public.

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ATHENS, 2004

The legacy of Athens' Olympics has stirred vigorous debate, and Greek authorities have been widely criticized for not having a post-Games plan for the infrastructure. While some of the venues built specifically for the games have been converted for other uses, many are underused or abandoned, and very few provide the state with any revenue.

Some critics even say that the multibillion-dollar cost of the games played a modest role in the nation's 2008 economic meltdown.

The main Olympic stadium — built decades before the 2004 games but revamped for the 2004 Olympics — is still used for major soccer matches, and most of the surrounding facilities and stadiums are also used for sporting events and concerts. One of the most successful conversions of Olympic facilities is the old badminton venue, now a theater.

The athletes' village was turned into housing for workers, but the communal areas were neglected, with frogs and debris taking over the old training pool in the village.

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SYDNEY, 2000

Before the 2000 summer Olympics, the site west of Sydney where the 1,580-acre Sydney Olympic Park was built was a grungy, desolate wasteland of slaughterhouses, garbage dumps and factories.

Since the games, it has slowly developed into its own suburb with hotels, offices, restaurants and parklands. The park now hosts thousands of events each year, from music festivals to sports to business conferences, drawing more than 12 million annual visitors.

It's also the home of the wildly popular Sydney Royal Easter Show, an agricultural fair that attracts more than 800,000 people each year.

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