celebrations of festivals – A new report warns that the sporting industry is “playing against the clock” and confronts major disruptions due to climate change.
Changing meteorological patterns have already affected the Summer and Winter Olympics, premier football divisions, tennis, athletics, golf, and cricket, according to a report from the Rapid Transition Alliance. However, the worst is yet to come, according to the report.
It warns that within the next three decades, one-fourth of English league football grounds will be at risk of flooding each season, one-third of British Open golf courses will be damaged by rising sea levels, and one-half of previous Winter Olympic host cities will no longer be able to reliably conduct winter sports.
It underscored the fact that climate change has already disrupted a number of prominent sporting events.
Some contests at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan were canceled due to unprecedented pacific typhoons; the New York triathlon and multiple horse races were also canceled in 2019 due to a heatwave in the Northern hemisphere.
During the 2014 Australian Open, when four days of temperatures above 41C were recorded, over a thousand spectators were treated for heat exhaustion, Caroline Wozniacki’s plastic bottle dissolved, and Wilfred Tsonga’s shoes melted.
Earlier in the year, the tournament was interrupted by haze from devastating bushfires.
Five competitors retired from the 2018 US Open due to heat-related issues. Temperatures on the court reached 49 degrees Celsius, necessitating the first application of the tournament’s extreme heat policy, which calls for extended breaks between games.
Organizers of the 2010 Vancourter Winter Games commented that “the warmest weather on record… hampered our ability to prepare fields of play for athletes at the venues in Cypress Mountains,” whereas competitors in Sochi, in 2014, complained of a dearth of snow.
As for the Summer Games, Tokyo 2020 organizers had to relocate long distance running events nearly 1,000 kilometers north of the capital due to the city’s humid summer climate.
“Sport is not merely a victim of change, but also a significant contributor,” the report states.
“The IOC’s [International Olympic Committee] carbon footprint is comparable to that of Barbados, while global football’s imprint is even larger. “Sporting events are responsible for massive amounts of aviation, carbon-heavy stadium construction, and mountains of non-recycled waste, all of which contribute significantly to the catastrophe we face today,” the report continues.
Andrew Simms, coordinator of the Rapid Transition Alliance, emphasized that “sport offers some of the most influential role models in society.”
“More will follow if sport can alter its operations with the pace and scope required to halt the climate emergency. If its participants also state that they believe clean air and a stable climate are important, millions more will recognize the potential for change, he added.
The first step for the organization would be to stop accepting sponsorships from fossil fuel companies. It then urges all global sporting federations, professional sports leagues, and tours to sign the UN Sport for Climate Action Framework and demands for the Framework to be more stringent.
It was proposed that by 2030, any global sporting events or excursions that are not carbon neutral should be canceled or postponed until they are, and that carbon-neutral sports federations should be excluded from the Olympics.
In addition, fewer tournaments and competitions may be part of the solution, the report stated.