As we’re writing this, the 2022 Olympics opening ceremony is less than two hours from starting. Beijing got the honor of organizing an unparallelled event. As always, organizing the Olympics means building all the necessary new stadiums, courts and tracks. Despite being able to use some of the 2008 infrastructure, the Beijing Olympics have had to build – amongst others – an entirely new ‘Sliding Centre’ for the bobsled, skeleton and luge events. So, what will happen to the centre once the Olympics are over? Previous examples have shown that these inconveniently specific pieces of infrastructure often end up being forgotten, left behind and taken back by nature. In the case of the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics, the Bosnian War led to the disuse of the then recently built bobsled track. Visiting its leftovers is unmistakably a must-see experience when in Sarajevo.
Before visiting, we specifically got the warning to stay on the roads and bobsled tracks itself, as the Bosnian countryside is not yet cleared of landmines from the war everywhere. You’ll see numerous warning signs, be sure to follow the advice!
In 2017, I (Thomas) spent two months traveling around the Balkans. Once in Sarajevo, I heard about the abandoned Olympic bobsled track and made a plan to try and find it together with three guys I met. Two of them had a rental car, which meant getting there was actually quite easy.
We drove up to the start of the bobsled track, where two of the different starting points are still visible. The upper, having once led to an entire building, had collapsed on one side, leaving an eerie sight behind. During our visit, it was possible to walk all the way down and up the entire bobsled track, over a kilometer, but some more recent visitors have spoken of minor renovations to keep the track accessible for the increasing number of visitors that find it.
Despite its growing popularity, especially with a new cable car leading up the mountain nearby, the track continues to be worth a visit when in Sarajevo, especially given the history of everything that took place since the Olympics were there in 1984.
The bobsled track is located a few kilometers outside of Sarajevo. There’s a small parking lot at the start of the track, near this viewpoint. From there, you can walk all the way down the track and back up. Since 2018, a cable car is back in service to the top of Mount Trebevic, near the bobsled track, giving you a car-free transport option.
Into more of this? Abandoned bobsled track Breuil Cervinia
Around the world, there is a ton more abandoned sports infrastructure, some Olympic, some not. On our recent trip to the Northern Italian Alps, we stumbled upon another abandoned bobsled track in the town of Breuil-Cervinia, as we were walking from our car towards the town via a back route. Reading a bit more about the track, it had a promising history, but fell into decline as it was officially declared that too many changes and renovations were needed for the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, and a different location was chosen.
Leftovers of the Breuil-Cervinia bobsled track are located between the famous Lago Blu and the town itself. From this point here, you can walk along the track and see it from numerous different locations.
Reading all of this, what do you think is going to happen to the bobsled track in Beijing after the 2022 Olympics?