After the Summer Olympics, Empty Shells in Beijing

A year and a half after the Olympics in Beijing, the impressive structures built for the event are left without a purpose. From the New York Times:

In 2008, the Chinese built a ball field — boy, what a ball field — known worldwide for its lattice-like architecture as the Bird’s Nest. Alas, after the 2008 Olympics, the ticket buyers haven’t come. Right now, the Bird’s Nest serves as a winter amusement park known as the Happy Ice and Snow Season. In April, a promoter may stage a celebrity rock concert to “establish China as a world leader for global peace and a healthier planet.” Or not.

After that, the government says it may build a shopping center there.

The accompanying photographs, shot at locales for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, succinctly depict the loneliness of where the long-distance runner once strode. In a week when the United States contemplates how long its future will be spent deep in debt, they also hint at how much its greatest creditor is pinning its own hopes of building wealth on dreams.

Two summers ago, China’s Olympic extravaganza was recognized worldwide, and especially here, as a barely disguised metaphor for this nation’s rise to worldwide importance. Eighteen months later, China is more important than its leaders could have imagined.

The Times also includes a slideshow of the buildings in their current incarnations.

February 6, 2010 6:39 PM
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