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Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis
Justice is moving in.
LEGAL ARENA

Greece has found a use for its decaying Olympic volleyball stadium

By Jill Petzinger

The crumbling hulk of the Olympic beach volleyball stadium in the Faliro suburb of Athens is set for a new lease on life. The empty facility will be turned over to the Ministry of Justice for the next 20 years to use as a courthouse.

The move is designed to address two of Greece’s many pressing problems—a shortage of courtroom space, and what to do with all the stadiums that have sat empty since the 2004 Olympic games.

A lack of courtroom venues has led to important trials being delayed and some rather uncomfortable improvisations: The 2015 trial of members from the neo-fascist Golden Dawn political party had to be held in a prison instead of a courthouse.

The government has pressed other Olympic venues from the games into service as reception centers for the thousands of asylum seekers that have been pouring into Greece since last year.

But many of the spaces have simply rotted away in the last 12 years. Greece spent over $10 billion on the 2004 games, and was blindsided soon after by the global financial crisis, from which it still hasn’t recovered.

Greece offers a cautionary tale to other countries, that the lavish spending required to host Olympic Games doesn’t necessarily do national economies much good. To underline the point: There were riots in Athens this past weekend over yet more austerity measures.