Empty Bird’s Nest Syndrome

As the London Olympic Games approach, more scrutiny has come to bear on the venues Beijing built for the 2008 Summer Games, most of which are barely used if not outright derelict.

Despite efforts from officials, none of the buildings is making any money at all. They tend to be more famous as tourist attractions than for sporting events. Reuters reports that the famous “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium hosts only a handful of soccer games per year. At this rate it will take three decades to recoup its 3 billion yuan ($480 million) building cost.

The adjoining Water Cube, built for swimming events, lost about 11 million yuan last year, even though it is subsidized by the national government.

But at least those two structures are used at all.

The rowing and other boat sport venues are almost completely abandoned, as boating is virtually unheard of in China.

Some venues were built on the campuses of local universities, which don’t know what to do with them because there is also no tradition of event management in Chinese universities.

Furthermore, the schools tend to be discouraged from holding events that attract large numbers of people anyway.