Four years after a memorable Olympics was hosted by Beijing, China's capital enjoys the benefits of an improved public transport and infrastructure. But many of the Olympic venues themselves are now underused and putting a strain on public finances.
In one such case, the kayaking arena - once touted as the site where kayakers Olympic dreams came true - now sits all but deserted. The remaining water is currently being drained into a surrounding park. The rowing venue, located in a remote northeastern suburb, now houses only small dingies.
"The cost for building Olympic venues was substantial. But the [Chinese] organizers failed to consider overall how to use the venues after the Olympics when building these sites or even bidding for the Olympics," said Yan Qiang, chief sports editor of NetEase Media Group.
This is also true of the archetypes of the Chinese Olympic model - "Bird's Nest" stadium and the "Water Cube" aquatics center. Here Sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica won three gold medals and broke world records. American swimmer Michael Phelps of the USA won eight gold medals. However, neither site is now regularly hosting sporting events.
Now an indoor water park, the Water Cube has done little to prove its cost benefit. Some locals think government spending on the maintenance of the Olympic sites is simply a waste of public money. And they have good reason.
At the current rate of return, it will take three decades to recoup the 3 billion yuan (USD$475 million) cost of building it, stadium managers estimate.
Four years ago, Beijing's Olympic venues were the physical symbols of the achievement of many lifelong dreams. They represented feats athletes thought was beyond their ability. And now the same sites sit in fading glory. Lying unkempt and deserted, the prized venues are overgrown with weeds and cluttered with rubble—without a purpose.
by RTT Staff Writer
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