Hosts' real Olympic challenge: after the games

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 24, 2014 at 1:22 pm •  Published: February 24, 2014
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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.

The Athletes' Village was converted into a suburb called Newington, featuring eco-friendly residential apartments, with solar power and a recycled water supply. Most of the sporting facilities still get quite a bit of use: the aquatics center hosts swimming competitions, and is also open to the public for recreational activities, with a water slide, spa and fitness center. The 690 million Australian dollar main stadium still hosts major sporting events, including cricket and rugby, despite its capacity being scaled down from 110,000 to 83,000

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NAGANO, 1998

In Nagano, five large structures were built for the 1998 Winter Games. They remain in use, though many complain that the venues are too big and costly to maintain for a town of less than 400,000 people.

The Olympic Stadium has been converted into a baseball stadium. Nagano doesn't have a professional team, though other teams play there on occasion.

The Aqua Wing Arena has been converted into an aquatics center, and the Big Hat is still used for ice hockey, as well as figure skating. The M-Wave hosted the World Sprint speed-skating championships last month, and the White Ring is used for professional basketball, volleyball and other events.

Nagano wasn't free from controversy, though. The bidding process for the games was clouded by bribery allegations.

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ATLANTA, 1996

In Atlanta, the main stadium for the 1996 summer Olympics is headed for demolition.

After the 1996 games, the stadium was converted into Turner Field, the baseball stadium that's been home to the Atlanta Braves for the past several years. But in November, the team announced plans to build a new stadium in the city's northwest suburbs and leave Turner Field in 2017. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said that Turner Field would be demolished after their departure.

Less than two miles north of the stadium, in the city's downtown area, Centennial Olympic Park was used for some of the ceremonies during the Atlanta games. The park remains a popular destination for residents and tourists, particularly in the warmer months. Every summer, children still splash in a large fountain that incorporates the Olympic rings in its design.

Other venues from the 1996 games have seen creative uses — including one of the first "running of the bulls" events in the U.S., inspired by the famed festival tradition in Pamplona, Spain.

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BARCELONA, 1992

The 1992 Olympic Games launched Barcelona as a major tourist attraction, converting it into what it is today — a must-see destination in Spain attracting millions of visitors a year. The city benefited greatly from the smash-hit song "Barcelona," Freddy Mercury's collaboration with Barcelona-born soprano Montserrat Caballe.

The games left Barcelona an important architectural legacy, much of which is still in use, including Palau Sant Jordi, which today is a large-scale music venue, and the Olympic Stadium, which was used for years by soccer team Espanyol and still hosts sports competitions.

The 1992 Games cost some 6.7 million euros and generated a profit of about 12 million euros, and completely changed Barcelona's appearance by opening new vistas to the seafront and creating ring roads that have greatly benefited the city.

The Olympic Village, which hosted athletes from around the world, today is home to city dwellers who still recall what they refer to as "that magical 1992."

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SARAJEVO, 1984

Wartime destruction and negligence have turned most of Sarajevo's 1984 Winter Olympic venues into painful reminders of the city's golden times.

The world came together in the former Yugoslavia in 1984 after the West had boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and Russia boycotted the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Just eight years later, the bobsleigh and luge track on Mount Trbevic was turned into an artillery position from which Bosnian Serbs pounded the city for almost four years.

Today, the abandoned concrete construction looks like a skeleton littered with graffiti. The elderly avoid it to keep it in their memories as it was — gloriously illuminated and visible from downtown.

Other Olympic mountains around Sarajevo had turned into battlegrounds during the 1992-95 Bosnian war that took 100,000 lives. Afterward, most of them were left dotted with land mines.

The two ski jumping hills on Mount Igman were never used again and became a surreal backdrop during the war when United Nations armored vehicles rolled pass them.

The hall where British ice dancing duo Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean gave a legendary Bolero performance that won the first, and so far only, perfect 6s in Olympic history, now lies next to a sea of white tombstones.

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AP writers Raphael Satter in London, Rob Gillies in Toronto, Elena Becatoros in Athens, Didi Tang in Beijing, Jeff Martin in Atlanta, Ga., Jim Armstrong in Tokyo, Harold Heckle in Madrid, Aida Cerkez in Sarajevo, and Kristen Gelineau in Sydney contributed to this report.

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