The first Olympics I can really remember were the 1992 Barcelona Games. I had been studying Spanish at school. My radio-cassette player blared with the sound of my new favourite song ‘‘Amigos Para Siempre’’ by Sarah Brightman and Jose Carreras.
On a trip to Barcelona a few years ago, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without climbing Montjuic, a hill rising from the coast to the south of the city and site of the Olympics.
Along with a trickle of other tourists, I found my way to the faded and empty Olympic Stadium where we stopped for a tasteless and overpriced packaged sandwich.
We found the Swimming Hall where Kieren Perkins won gold in the men’s 1500m Freestyle. We pressed our faces against the dirty glass windows. We marvelled at the Montjuic Communications Tower, which at 136 metres, resembles something from a sci-fi movie standing sentinel over a vast and abandoned plaza. As we strolled the empty streets and rode the still functioning cable car, I was enveloped by the quiet sense of faded glory. But most of all, I was struck by the waste.
Every four years the Olympics light up our lives for three exciting weeks only to leave behind it a new ghost city of expensive infrastructure.