Atlantic Cities
Postcard

When an Olympic City Becomes a War Zone

The remains of Sarajevo's 1984 Winter Olympics suffered an unfortunate fate. Less than a decade after the closing ceremonies, its facilities were transformed into battlegrounds of the Bosnian War. Even the spared sites fell into decades of neglect.

But that's slowly beginning to change.

Earlier this year, The Olympic City photographer John Pack visited. He saw, he says, a city "ravaged by war, being reclaimed and used by regular folks." Kosevo stadium (where the opening and closing ceremonies took place) was renovated in 1998. Zetra Hall, destroyed during the war, was rebuilt in 1999. Skenderija Hall, abandoned for years, was renovated in 2006. It now brings in about 500,000 visitors a year. And Mount Jahorina, which hosted the women's Alpine skiing events, is a popular holiday spot (though landmines are still occasionally spotted along its off-course slopes).

Not all of the facilities are as fortunate. At Mount Trebevic, where bobsled and luge facilities were turned into an artillery stronghold, bullet holes are still visible. The site is now a prime target for graffiti artists and vandals. The ski jump area at Mount Igmam also sits as a haunting shell of its former self.

With only 100 days left before Sochi hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics, Reuters photographer Dado Ruvic explored Sarajevo's Olympic remains, capturing images that show the exhausting toll of time, history, and war:


The logo of the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo is seen on a tower near the Zetra hall, the venue for the figure skating in Sarajevo October 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)


The logo of Winter Olympics in Sarajevo is seen at Zetra hall, the venue for the figure skating in Sarajevo October 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)


A dog walks past the Olympic snowflake logo on the wall of the Kosevo stadium, the venue of the opening ceremony for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic) 


A picture of "Vucko", the official mascot of the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, is seen at Zetra hall, the venue for the figure skating in Sarajevo October 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic) 


A picture of "Vucko", the official mascot of the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, is seen at Zetra hall, the venue for figure skating in Sarajevo October 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)


A picture of "Vucko", the official mascot of the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo is seen at Zetra hall, the venue for the figure skating in Sarajevo October 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic) 


The disused bobsleigh track from the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics is seen on Mount Trebevic, near Saravejo September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic) 


The disused bobsleigh track from the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics is seen on Mount Trebevic, near Saravejo September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)


A view of a disused and ruined hotel for competitors of Winter Olympics Sarajevo on Mount Igman near Sarajevo September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic) 


The derelict site of Zetra hall, the venue for the figure skating during the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo October 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic) 


A view of worn stone steps which lead to the disused ski jump from the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics on Mount Igman, near Saravejo September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic) 


People walk past the logo of the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, painted on the streets in central Sarajevo October 27, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)


A view of the disused judges room for the ski jump from the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics on Mount Igman, near Saravejo September 19, 2013.  (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)


The Olympic Rings are seen on the disused ski jump from the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics on Mount Igman, near Saravejo September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)


A view of the derelict medals podium at the disused ski jump from the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics on Mount Igman, near Saravejo September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Keywords: Sarajevo, Olympics

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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