What Happens to the Olympic Village When the Games Are Over?

Japan has had a difficult time getting the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games up and running because of repeated cancelations and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The host city has spent an unprecedented amount of money preparing sporting venues and housing facilities for top athletes from around the world. So it makes sense that people have wondered: What happens to the Olympic Village when the games are over? Keep reading to learn more.

What happens to the Olympic Village when the Tokyo games are over?

The Olympic Village in Tokyo
The Olympic Village in Tokyo. | Carl Court/Getty Images

The Tokyo Olympic Village is massive, occupying approximately 33 acres in the prestigious Harumi waterfront district. The man-made peninsula is surrounded on three sides by Tokyo Bay, with gorgeous views of the infamous Rainbow Bridge.

There are 21 residential towers inside the Olympic Village that differ in size from 14 to 18 stories. With 3,600 rooms measuring approximately 1,200 square feet, there is adequate sleeping space for 18,000 participants. Cardboard beds are being utilized to promote sustainability. Social media has mocked this innovative idea, suggesting the host city is discouraging intimacy.

The buildings in the Village are indigo blue, each unit with a different color scheme. Country flags and banners hang from the balconies. There are four sections of the housing complex, titled Sun, Park, Port, and Sea. The Olympic Village’s state-of-the-art facilities also offer communal space that includes an enormous recreation area, dining halls open around the clock, medical clinics, and an automated transportation center.

As impressive as the complex is, many can’t help but wonder what will become of it when the Olympic Games are over. Real Estate Japan explained the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Village cost an estimated $2 billion to build. They reported, “After the games, the apartments will be made available for sale and rent to the public.” In line with plans of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, “the consortium will also build two 50-story residential skyscrapers after the Olympics are over.” Real Estate Japan claims, “By 2024, there will be a total of 23 buildings with a total 5,650 residential units.”

The fates of previous Olympic Villages have varied

Once the Olympic Games are over, host cities around the globe face exorbitant bills for venues and housing units that are no longer needed. So it makes sense that they would attempt to re-purpose the Olympic Villages.

After the 2012 Games, London converted the East Village housing units used for athletes into 3,000 new homes. Venues were transformed into shops, restaurants, and schools. According to Forbes, today, “two-bedroom flats in the former Athletes’ Village are on sale for upwards of $1 million.”

Brazil wasn’t as fortunate. Host of the 2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro was home to a $700 million complex. When the games were over, the Village was renovated into luxury condos. In recent years, the units have stood vacant.

The housing used for Olympic athletes during the 2014 Sochi Winter Games is now high-end resorts. Other villages in places like Munich and Atlanta have become student housing units to accommodate local university students.

There have been unique challenges at the Tokyo Olympic Village amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sharing meals and enjoying one another’s company is discouraged in the Tokyo Olympic Village. Plastic dividers litter the cafeterias, and athletes are advised to eat alone.

USA Today reported that the International Olympic Committee announced, “These guidelines form part of the wider countermeasures being put in place to ensure that all Olympic Venues, including the Village, are safe spaces where athletes and officials can prepare for and compete in their competitions serenely.”

All these precautions come at a cost, as Japan has spent more than $900 million on establishing COVID-19 protocols. According to the Olympics website, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Village also includes “a dedicated Fever Clinic for diagnosing and testing athletes showing symptoms as well as a dedicated area for close contacts.”

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