Climate change shadow on Winter Olympics


IOC delays decision to award 2030 games Image: Visit Sapporo

Concerned about the impact of climate change on the Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to delay choosing a host for the 2030 Games for at least 13 months as it tries to figure out how to hold a February Olympics on a warming planet.

‘The Washington Post’ stated that the IOC has been in conversations with representatives from Salt Lake City (City in Utah, US), Vancouver (Canada) and Sapporo (Japan), and there had been indications that one of those Cities soon would be invited to hold exclusive conversations with the IOC’s future games committee – a final step toward being named as host for 2030. Instead, the committee’s Executive Board raised several questions about climate change at a meeting held recently.

The Winter Olympic Games is a major international multisport event held once every four years for sports practiced on snow and ice. The first Winter Olympic Games, the 1924 Winter Olympics, was held in Chamonix, France.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is a non-Governmental sports organization based in Lausanne, Switzerland. It is constituted in the form of an association under the Swiss Civil Code.

‘The Washington Post’ further stated that after a long discussion that included suggestions that future Winter Olympics be held only in places that have average February temperatures of 32 degrees and the possibility of rotating Winter Games among a small pool of places guaranteed to be cold, the Executive Board decided the IOC needs to study its options before making a choice for 2030. The 2026 Games will be held in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

Commented Christophe Dubi, IOC Executive Director, “We have preliminary results of leading academic research on the impact of climate change, which shows a potential reduction in a number of climate reliable hosts in the future reduction of number of climate reliable hosts.”

The Salt Lake City and Sapporo long have been considered the strongest bids, but each faced some resistance. There has been some reluctance to stage the Olympics in the United States less than two years after the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles. A corruption scandal in Japan related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has dulled enthusiasm for another Games in that country.

IOC officials said the delay in naming a 2030 City is not related to concerns about the existing bids and stressed the organization needs to understand the dangers of planning future Olympics in places that will be too warm to adequately handle them. A warm late Autumn in Europe wiped out the World Cup ski season’s first few events.

IOC executives said they are comfortable making a late decision on a 2030 host because the three bidding Cities have hosted Winter Olympics in the past and will not need as much time as other Cities to prepare for the Games.

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