With the excitement of Rio 2016 Olympics, it’s hard to imagine that the buildings could become modern ruins within a few years. The facilities are difficult to maintain and the host country’s future is difficult to predict. Take the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, for example. When the Bosnian War hit in 1992, the Olympics Sports Complex became a haunting graveyard for casualties.
There’s something captivating about crowd-filled spaces that are now empty. The great structures are turning back into dust and nature swoops back in. Ruins photography, which was made famous by Camilo José Vergara’s 1995 book The New American Ghetto and American Ruins, draws our attention to collapsed and forgotten places.
The apocalyptic images of swimming pools are easily the most poignant subgenre of Olympics ruin photography. The cracked tiles and rusty diving boards of former venues in Berlin and Athens serve as a warning for future Summer Olympic Games host cities, including Rio. Could the site of Michael Phelps’ 21st gold medal become a brown cesspool full of busted office furniture? At least these photos make Rio’s green swimming pools look good.