17 eerie photos that show what happened to the Olympic venues in Sarajevo after the games ended in 1984

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17 eerie photos that show what happened to the Olympic venues in Sarajevo after the games ended in 1984
  • Sarajevo, the current capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, hosted the Winter Olympics in 1984.
  • Not even a decade later, the city was ground zero in the war for Bosnian Independence.
  • Almost 20 years after the war ended, many of the Olympic venues have remained abandoned.

The 1984 Winter Olympics were held in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, from February 8 to 19.

The 1984 Winter Olympics were held in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, from February 8 to 19.
The medal podium at the ski jump venue. Ioanna Sakellaraki / Barcroft Im / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The 1984 games were the first Winter Olympics to be held in a socialist state, and the second consecutive games to be held in a socialist country, after the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

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The 1984 games were seen as a grand reunion, as many Western countries had boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics, including the US.

The 1984 games were seen as a grand reunion, as many Western countries had boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics, including the US.
The Olympic rings are seen on the Jahorina Mountain near Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on February 5, 2019. Dado Ruvic/Reuters

The US boycotted the games in Moscow in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. More than 60 nations refused to take part.

In 1984, many of the events took place near Jahorina Mountain, seen here in 2019.

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But soon after the games ended, Yugoslavia was thrust into turmoil, with the country formally collapsing in 1992.

But soon after the games ended, Yugoslavia was thrust into turmoil, with the country formally collapsing in 1992.
Graffiti by London creative collective The Lurkers, "The Lurkers do Sarajevo," is written on a destroyed hotel at Mt. Igman. Amel Emric/AP

A destroyed hotel at Mount Igman, where events including ski jumping were held in 1984, is pictured in 2014.

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Sarajevo was almost immediately put under siege - just eight years after the Olympics ended, the bobsled track was turned into an artillery position by the Bosnian Serbs.

Sarajevo was almost immediately put under siege - just eight years after the Olympics ended, the bobsled track was turned into an artillery position by the Bosnian Serbs.
The bobsleigh track originally built for the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics lies unused on Mt. Trebević. Tim Goode/PA Images via Getty Images

This is what the bobsled track looked like in 2014 — it's been almost completely left to nature.

Sylvia Hui at the Associated Press wrote that year, "Today, the abandoned concrete construction looks like a skeleton littered with graffiti."

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Sarajevo was under siege for almost four years, "the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare," according to NPR.

Sarajevo was under siege for almost four years, "the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare," according to NPR.
This former Winter Olympic venue in 2014. Giles Clarke/Getty Images

According to NPR, the Bosnian war led to 100,000 deaths and the "worst atrocities in Europe since World War II."

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This hotel, which was built as part of the Olympic Village, was turned into a prison during the war.

This hotel, which was built as part of the Olympic Village, was turned into a prison during the war.
The abandoned shell of a hotel constructed for the 1984 Winter Olympics and where competitors stayed. Giles Clarke/Getty Images

According to Getty, 10 years after the games, "the hotel was turned into a prison and place of execution for Bosnian Muslims — all overseen by Serb Forces." Even the medal podium was turned into an execution site.

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By the time the war ended in February 1996, thousands of civilians were dead, and the new country of Bosnia and Herzegovina had to decide how to move forward.

By the time the war ended in February 1996, thousands of civilians were dead, and the new country of Bosnia and Herzegovina had to decide how to move forward.
Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics logo is seen on the tower near the Zetra Hall in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on July 14, 2015. Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Many of the Olympic venues had been damaged or destroyed by the constant bombing and warfare.

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Almost 20 years later, many of the tracks and venues are still empty and abandoned, like these ski jumps at Mount Igman.

Almost 20 years later, many of the tracks and venues are still empty and abandoned, like these ski jumps at Mount Igman.
Abandoned Igman Olympic jumps in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on July 14, 2015. Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

According to Getty, "The area around the 90-meter hill was heavily mined during the Bosnian war."

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Here's what they look like from another angle.

Here's what they look like from another angle.
Children gather at foot of the 1984 Olympic Ski jump hill at Mt. Igman just 25 kilometers from downtown Sarajevo. Giles Clarke/Getty Images

The mountains border the city.

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The ski jump has been left to the elements.

The ski jump has been left to the elements.
The abandoned ski jumping facility is seen covered in moss at Mt. Igman near Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Amel Emric/AP

Vertigo sufferers might want to look away.

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There are reminders of the Olympics scattered throughout the old venues.

There are reminders of the Olympics scattered throughout the old venues.
Destroyed Olympic rings on the abandoned Igman Olympic ski jump in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on July 14, 2015. Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

They're just missing some color.

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Here's where the judges sat during the ski-jumping competition.

Here's where the judges sat during the ski-jumping competition.
Judges tower on the Igman Olympic jumps in Sarajevo on July 14, 2015. Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

East Germany's Jens Weißflog and Finland's Matti Nykänen each took home gold medals in ski jumping that year.

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The bobsled track was located on Mount Trebević, which was reachable by cable car from the city. It closed in 1989 and was destroyed during the war.

The bobsled track was located on Mount Trebević, which was reachable by cable car from the city. It closed in 1989 and was destroyed during the war.
Sarajevo's abandoned bobsled track near Sarajevo in 2014. ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP via Getty Images

"The remains of destroyed restaurants, hotels, sports facilities and mountain huts were left to rot and the thousands of mines were cleared at a painstakingly slow pace" after the war ended, The Guardian wrote in 2018.

The cable car triumphantly reopened in 2018.

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After the war ended, the track gained two new uses: a place for graffiti artists to paint and a place for bikers to practice.

After the war ended, the track gained two new uses: a place for graffiti artists to paint and a place for bikers to practice.
Downhill bikers Tarik Hadzic, Kemal Mulic, and Kamer Kolar train on the disused bobsled track from the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics on Mt. Trebević near Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 8, 2015. Dado Ruvic/Reuters

At least it's getting some use.

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There's hundreds of feet of concrete for artists to express themselves.

There's hundreds of feet of concrete for artists to express themselves.
The bobsled track originally built for the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics lies unused on Mt. Trebević. Tim Goode/PA Images via Getty Images

The walls are covered in tags and street art.

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This is what it looked like during the winter of 2018.

This is what it looked like during the winter of 2018.
The bobsled track is seen on Mount Trebević in Sarajevo on January 16, 2018. Dado Ruvic/Reuters

It's probably harder to bike in that weather.

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The reminders of the war will always be part of Sarajevo's history, along with the Olympics. A wartime cemetery was built right next to the Zetra Olympic Hall.

The reminders of the war will always be part of Sarajevo's history, along with the Olympics. A wartime cemetery was built right next to the Zetra Olympic Hall.
A picture taken on March 19, 2019, shows the Kosovo wartime cemetery in Sarajevo. ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP via Getty Images

Unfortunately, Sarajevo isn't the only city that has to reckon with abandoned Olympic venues. There are empty stadiums all over the world.

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