Structures in the exclusion zone, like a backboard with no rims, have been left to nature. Photo Ivan Chernichkin for The New York Times
PRIPYAT, Ukraine — Nature has done its ruthless work. The main soccer stadium is now a football forest. Birches and poplars have crowded the field, pushed through the asphalt running track, blocked an entrance to the grandstand. Moss grows in clumps on concrete steps and sprouts in rotted wooden seats. Less than two miles away, Reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded on April 26, 1986. The 50,000 workers and their families who lived here were evacuated by bus, never to return. Pripyat’s apartment blocks became an urban wilderness. The soccer goal posts at School No. 1 are hidden in a thicket of trees, down a leafy path with fresh animal tracks. “The final match of Euro 2012 will be played here to see who is the strongest,” Maxim Orel, a tour guide for Chernobylinterinform, a department of Ukraine’s Ministry of Emergency, said last week with gallows humor at the abandoned central stadium. “The winners will be mutants.” The actual final of the European Championships will be played two hours south, in Kiev, on July 1. During the tournament, Chernobyl is attracting fans of dark tourism, who wear their jerseys and scarves and wary eagerness. And the spew of radiation is being blamed a quarter century later for poisoning a soccer star from Bulgaria.
The abandoned Middle School No. 3 decays in Pripyat, Ukraine, part of the contaminated area surrounding Chernobyl. Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
Ghost Town Pripyat once had a population of about 50,000 people. They were given a few hours to evacuate in April 1986.Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
Read more about Pripyat:
Chernobyl. From http://www.chernobylee.com/blog/new-safe-confinement/
A render for the new Safe Confinement. From http://www.chernobylee.com/blog/new-safe-confinement/2007/09/