Sad Before & After Shots of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Venues

As I was finalizing my flight plans for the London 2012 Olympics (miraculously two Delta LOW seats on the direct flights to/from JFK), I came across a Yahoo! story on the sad state of the venues from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I just so happened to be working in Asia during the 2008 Summer Games and the excitement and pride within China surrounding the games and the amazing Bird’s Nest and Water Cube was incredible. Being a part of the Olympics in Beijing, while attending events at these venues, is still one of my fondest travel memories. The city and the people had an enthusiasm that I have not witnessed again in any of my more recent trips back.  Currently, the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube are used for large events, though several of the other venues lay deserted or demolished.

(Article by Erick Galindo, pictures courtesy of Jason Lee/Reuters):

Bird’s Nest – BEFORE

Bird’s Nest – AFTER – Workers clean garbage from the lake

Water Cube – BEFORE – “The product of design and engineering harmony, and a rising power’s desire to announce itself to the world”

Water Cube – AFTER 

Baseball – BEFORE

Baseball – AFTER

Baseball – AFTER

Rowing-Canoeing Venue -BEFORE

Rowing-Canoeing Venue -AFTER

Rowing-Canoeing Venue -AFTER



Volleyball – AFTER

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  1. It is a shame. London’s park will close after the Paralympics are over for several months, whilst the legacy is arranged. There has been a huge effort to try and make sure there is a legacy from the event. Let’s hope we’re not seeing these types of pictures when the circus gets to Rio in 4 years.

  2. The Montreal games proved how badly getting the Olympics could actually work out for a city. They had mounds of debt and a bunch of facilities that were expensive to maintain but that weren’t being used for anything.

    The Atlanta games took those lessons and ran with a completely different plan: use as many existing facilities as possible, even if that means including other cities like Athens, Savannah, Birmingham, etc., and anything that’s built just for the games has to be temporary or have a use after the games (e.g. Olympic stadium is now Turner Field, Aquatics Center became the Student Athletic Complex for Georgia Tech and hosts collegiate events, etc.).

    I’m guessing Beijing didn’t apply those principals because they wanted the biggest show of how awesome they are possible, which is a bit in conflict with the Atlanta approach.

    I hope London took a more Atlanta-style approach, and the games so far–yes, preliminary soccer matches have already started–have all been in existing football stadiums, so that’s a win. I also know that Wembley will be used for events. Tennis will be played at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, so that’s a win. I have not researched the other facilities enough to know how they will be used post-Olympics.

  3. That’s a shame 🙁 What a waste of $ and resources in a country that’s a “rising power” but still filled with a lot of poverty as well. 🙁 I’m especially sad about the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube as they were really cool structures!

  4. Does sports advance society enough to warrant the investments?
    I love watching the Olympics but imagine what all the money spent in building, training, transportation, and food could do!?

  5. Atlanta didnt do so well in the long run…some facilities were built in the boonies like the sporting clay / trap shooting facility….afterwards they charged $6 a head to use it but couldnt get enough people to travel to its remote south fulton location to keep it open….and then there was the bomb thing that put a squash on tourism for a long while. Billy powell and the promoters were found guilty of bribery and graft. The taxpayers ultimately lost.

  6. The Water Cube is a misrepresentation. One photo was taken from outside at night, and the other was taken from the inside in the day. The Water Cube looks the same as it did during the 2008 Olympics. Except now it’s an indoor water park.

    • China’s Water Cube: Happy Magic Water Park was first opened on August 8, 2011, after a year of renovations. Forrec, a Toronto-based design firm, magically transformed the once lonely Water Cube into a place where families can spend quality time together.

  7. I highly reccomend you watch Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry, a documentary about a current Chinese artist. You will look at the Beijing Games very differently.

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