Climate Change, Science

The Sustainability Of The Olympic Games

The Tokyo Olympics held this year aimed to be the most sustainable Olympic Games ever held. However, eco-friendly experts believe not enough is being done to combat the impact on the climate. 

Organisers in Tokyo have gone to extreme lengths in order to keep the games as environmentally friendly as possible. Athletes have spoken at great length about the cardboard beds in the Olympic Village, but a whole host of other measures have also been implemented. Each of the 5,000 medals given out was made out of recycled metal from old electronic devices in Japan, the stadiums were made with sustainable materials, and the Olympic torches were powered by hydrogen, a zero-waste fuel.  

While this all sounds fantastic, sustainability experts are unconvinced. Sven Daniel Wolfe, a lecturer in urban geography at the University of Lausanne, says “While the attempts of organisers are laudable, unfortunately, more work needs to be done in order to ensure that the words and deeds are more in line”. 

Wolfe is an author of a paper published in Nature Sustainability, a journal focussing on environmental impact. Although the authors of the paper give some credit to organisers for attempting to limit the effects of the games on the environment, there is room for improvement. They point out the timber supplier for stadiums, a company called Korindo, has taken part in the deforestation of the Indonesian rainforest. The paper also points out Tokyo 2020’s effort to lead the first carbon-negative games may be false advertising, as organisers rely on carbon offsetting, a technique campaigners say isn’t effective enough to negate the effects of the carbon released in the atmosphere and has led to accusations of “greenwashing”.  

The authors of the paper applauded the efforts of organisers of the games to make it as sustainable as possible, however, they pointed out there is still work to do. 

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George Barsted

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May 2022
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