PHOTOS: 2008 Beijing Olympic Venues - Then & Now

By Justine Lopez, August 10, 2016

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With all the buzz going on around the Rio Olympics, we can't help but reflect on the 2008 Beijing Olympics. We all know that the Summer Games were a big deal. They did a lot of things for the city, including giving the capital a makeover – a USD40 billion makeover, actually. At the time, Beijing was able to show off its new, ultra-modern venues to the world. And the world was impressed. 

But like so many other former Olympic host cities, many of the magnificent structures that were built in Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games have been long forgotten. So what do they look like now? Here’s a before-and-after glimpse at some of Beijing's Olympic venues.

Beijing National Aquatic Center

Then: The venue was used as the official aquatic center for the Games. The “Water Cube” took roughly three years to build. And it appeared to be worth the effort because it was one of the most memorable structures of the 2008 Summer Games.  

Now: Unlike a lot of Beijing’s Olympic venues, which have been abandoned or fallen into disrepair, the Beijing National Aquatic Center has since been renovated and transformed into one of the coolest water parks in Beijing.  

The Volleyball Stadium

Then: The venue was used to host the beach volleyball competition in 2008. It once held up to 9,000 spectators. 

Now: This place has pretty much been deserted for years and is in obvious disrepair. But it looks kind of cool if you ask us!

Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park  

Then: The man-made canal, located on the ouskirts of the city, was used for the kayaking competition of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Now: Another deserted venue. 

Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest)

Then: The iconic Bird’s Nest Stadium was the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies. It also housed track and field, football, discus and other events. The estimated cost to build the stadium was a whopping RMB2,267 million (roughly USD33 million). 

Now: Bird’s Nest still stands as an architectural marvel. It is used to host a variety of sporting events and local and international concerts and is the site of the largest ski resort in urban Beijing during the winter months. It is also expected to be used for the opening and closing ceremonies during the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The BMX Bike Track  

Then: The track once buzzed with bikes and the chatter of fans. It was an impressive track, arguably one of the best in the world. 

Now: Sad.

[Main image via David Gray / Reuters]

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