The abandoned stadium that hosted the hockey competition during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games is seen at the Hellenikon complex south of Athens on July 16, 2014. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

A look at the aging symbols of Greece's pre-crisis spending.

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Summer Olympics, a reminder for Greece, a nation €347 billion ($465 billion U.S.) in debt today, of its less austere days.

In 2014 figures, the final cost of building for the Games is estimated to been around €11 billion ($15 billion U.S.), well above initial estimates when Athens was first awarded the Summer Olympics by the IOC.

"It was a waste of money and all for show. It cost a lot," Dimitris Mardas, who was Greece's general secretary for trade at the time, tells ReutersSome supporters of the 2004 Games still defend the event. "If you put it on a scale," Hellenic Olympic Committee head Spyros Kapralos tells the newswire, "the positives outweigh the negatives, but unfortunately we weren't able to communicate that." 

Athens originally hoped to host the 1996 Games, the Olympic Centennial. Instead, it finished second to Atlanta for a number of reasons, including IOC concerns over air pollution and whether or not Greece could afford the billions required to improve its traffic and security infrastructure. At the time, some members of the Greek delegation cried conspiracy, with major Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola's home city being selected over the birthplace of the first modern Olympics. 

The official intro video played during the 2004 Opening Ceremonies. Its new infrastructure is highlighted in the last 10 seconds.

A better-organized effort in 1997 finally brought the Games back to the Greek capital—and with it, billions of Euros in construction. But after years of inactivity following their victory, then-IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch called the Greek building efforts, "the worst organizational crisis in his career." 

A new organizing committee was formed shortly after. By the opening ceremonies on August 13, 2004, new tram system and airport, an expanded metro system, improved roads, and permanent athletic facilities had all been built.

This summer, Reuters photographers Yannis Behrakis and Yorgos Karahalis have been documenting the remains of Athens' 2004 Summer Olympics. Many facilities are still used for athletics. Some sites sit idle as private developers struggle to secure financing for their redevelopment plans.

Other structures have seen new life since the closing ceremonies with varying degrees of success. A shopping mall now stands on what was originally the International Broadcast Center. The former athletes' village has struggled as an affordable housing complex. The Hellinikon softball stadium sees no use at all. 

A commuter walks through the Agora structure at the Athens 2004 Olympic Complex in Athens. (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)
A general view of the former International Broadcasting Centre (IBC) for the Athens 2004 Olympics, now a shopping mall, near the Olympic Complex in Athens. (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)
Broken seats are seen at the abandoned baseball stadium at the Hellenikon Olympic complex in Athens. (REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis)
A scoreboard is seen amid weeds at the abandoned Canoe and Kayak Slalom Centre, which hosted the respective competitions during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games at the Hellenikon complex south of Athens. (REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis)
A chair stands in a deserted swimming pool at the Olympic Village in the town of Thrakomakedones, north of Athens. (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)
Athletes practice at the rowing centre, which hosted the competition during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games at the town of Schinias, east of Athens. (2014.REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis)
Posters with the logo of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games are seen inside a hall at the Olympic sailing centre, now used as a marina, in the Agios Kosmas suburb, south of Athens. (REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis)
A podium is seen inside the marble Panathinaikon stadium in Athens. The Panathinaikon stadium was the venue of the first modern Olympics in 1896 and was also used for the Archery events and the finish of the Marathon during the Athens 2004 Games. (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)
Blocks of marble inscribed with the names of cities that have hosted the modern Olympic Games are seen inside the Panathinaikon stadium in Athens. (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)
A podium is seen inside the marble Panathinaikon stadium in Athens. (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    The Problem With 'Fast-Casual Architecture'

    Washington, D.C., has a huge new waterfront development that’s fun, popular, and easy on the eyes. Is anything wrong with that?

  2. Design

    Experimental City: The Sci-Fi Utopia That Never Was

    With solar energy, recycling, computers, and personal mass transit, the 1960s-era Minnesota Experimental City was a prescient and hopeful vision of the urban future. A new documentary tells its story.

  3. Transportation

    How a Satirical Call for Bikelash Became a Real, Invective-Laden Protest

    People carried signs reading “Nazi Lanes” at the Minneapolis anti-bike lane demonstration, which several political candidates attended.

  4. A man walks his bicycle beside a train in Paris.
    Maps

    Breaking Down the Many Ways Europe's City-Dwellers Get to Work

    One chart shows which cities do best when it comes to biking, walking, or taking public transit to work.

  5. Life

    Google Announces Plan to Turn Toronto Neighborhood into Living Laboratory

    The development is the company's first foray into what it has described as "rebuilding cities from the Internet up.”