Rio Olympic Venues Are Falling Apart Just 6 Months After Event

In this Feb. 2, 2017 photo, a woman walks past Olympic rings covered with a canvas at Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The stadium was renovated for the 2014 World Cup at a cost of about $500 million, and largely abandoned after the Olympics and Paralympics, then hit by vandals who ripped out thousands of seats and stole televisions. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

The legacy of the Rio Olympics is a farce.

The closing ceremony was six months ago Tuesday, and already several of the venues are abandoned and falling apart. The Olympic Park is a ghost town, the lights have been turned off at the Maracana and the athlete village sits empty.

“It’s not a good look for us,” IOC member John Coates told Around the Rings in a story published Tuesday.

And yet it was one that so easily could have been avoided.

The IOC will no doubt blame organizers, politicians and everyone else who saw dollar signs in Rio’s grand plans. But the billions that were wasted, the venues that so quickly became white elephants, the crippling bills for a city and country already struggling to make ends meet — this is on the IOC as much as anyone.

It didn’t take a Nobel Prize economist to see Rio’s pitfalls back in the fall of 2009, when the IOC was selecting a 2016 host.

Yes, Brazil’s economy was booming then. But the country was already committed to hosting the World Cup in 2014, a tournament that would ultimately cost $15 billion. It had hosted the Pan Am Games two years earlier and, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars, failed to deliver on promises of clean water and infrastructure (sound familiar?) or build venues that also could be used for the Olympics.

Add in the corruption that’s endemic to Brazilian politics and business, and the IOC could have — should have — seen this coming.

“I think you’re assuming there’s some deeper-level thinking going on here,” said Jules Boykoff, author of Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics. “I’m afraid that’s just not happening.”

That it’s not could very well threaten the future of the Olympics.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Nancy Armour