Three months after the end of the games, new figures show the "Olympic Effect" has been short-lived and hotels are empty, industrial output has fallen and the streets are quiet.
Much of the pain is due to the worldwide financial crisis – and in some cases due to brave decisions by the government to keep polluting industries shut to spare the environment.
But even the biggest single symbol of the modern rise of China, the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium, stands forlorn, largely unused except for a shrinking number of tourists.
Attempts to attract the city's main football team to move to the ground have failed – it is simply too big for the club's crowds. Instead, it charges 50 yuan – around five pounds – per person to come and stand where Usain Bolt and others touched glory in the summer.
Henry Zhang, deputy head of the Stadium's management firm, said he was concerned about whether it would recoup its investment. "I have been worried and I'm still worried," he said.
"The situation is OK at the moment but we are calling it 'Ju An Si Wei' – 'Enjoy the calm but prepare for danger'."
Other countries have suffered post-Olympic blues, a warning to Britain's own planning for London 2012. The huge investment in facilities and transport comes to a sudden end, and if alternative uses cannot be found for the venues, they can seem like expensive white elephants.
But China was forecast to avoid the fate of Australia and Greece after the Sydney and Athens Games of 2000.
The amounts being spent on Beijing, though on the surface huge at between 25-40 billion pounds, were dwarfed by sums being spent countrywide in a large and booming economy on roads, airports and new factories.
Unfortunately, the figures show that in some ways the Olympics may have actually contributed to a downturn.
Hotel occupancy rates have been lower than managers hoped for most of the year, something blamed on a more restrictive visa regime for foreigners and other measures aimed at tightening security.
Now, though China's economy is still supposed to be growing nine per cent every year, hotel prices in the capital are actually falling as rooms empty.
The average in November was more than seven per cent down overall, and 13 per cent for five star hotels. Many of the new luxury palaces opened specifically for the Games are less than half full.
That is partly because the tourists are staying away – there were a fifth fewer foreign tourists in November compared to last year.
"There was a pickup in September and October, but since then is when the credit crunch has come down on everybody," said Cary Gray, manager of the St Regis, a five-star hotel in the embassy district used to hosting world leaders such as Bill Clinton and Henry Kissinger.
It underwent a 18 million pound refit before the Games, but is now on average two thirds empty.
Many Beijingers are enjoying the increased number of "blue sky" days – days when the air meets China's own standards for pollution. A number of factories which were closed down for the Olympics have not been allowed to reopen, including concrete factories inside the fifth ring road and chemical plants that do not meet new pollution standards.
But those hoping for an Olympic dividend have been disappointed.
"There was a primary school athletics contest here, and I've heard they want to arrange a concert for next year" said Zhen Yan, a woman running a photo stall at the Bird's Nest, supposedly one of the world's greatest sports stadiums.
"But that's it. And the visitors are getting fewer and fewer."Original here