They are ruined by climate change
How do we organize the Winter Olympics when “winter” as we know it is deteriorating?
Melting snow, high winds and the many other ills of climate change are on the minds of Olympians and scientists as the world prepares for the Beijing Olympics, which not only takes place on the eighth hottest consecutive year on recordbut also, of course, during the COVID-19 pandemic still raging.
World-class skiers get a taste of what awaits them in Beijing during the Alpine Skiing World Cup. Organizers from two continents had to cancel slalom competitions due to dangerously strong winds which, like The Guardian Remarksseemed to give unfair advantages to the first runners down in Vermont women’s games, and even tragically led to French bronze medalist Victor Muffat-Jeandet break your ankle in ZagrebCroatia.
A recent study published in the Current issues in tourism newspaper found that conditions in Winter Olympics cities have become increasingly dangerous and unfair over the past 50 years – and, according to the researchers’ projections, an extremely small number of previous host cities will have enough snow and ice for games in the future.
While the focus is on fake snow being shipped to winter sports arenas – as is happening in Beijing this year – the impacts of climate change on winter sports are perhaps being felt most harshly in the places where Olympians live and train because artificial snow is often an unsustainable supplementation for the real thing.
Like the Associated press Notedcolorado went 232 days without snow through Dec. 10, 2021, which broke the state record for the most consecutive days without snowfall since 1880. And by the end of that month, only about an inch had accumulated — and at that by then wildfires had begun to swarm around the state.
“We definitely noticed a lack of snow everywhere,” said Taylor Fletcher, a Colorado-born, Utah-based Nordic Combined Olympian. PA. “Places that in December, November were once ‘wonderlands of winter’, we see them with less and less snow. And some years there is no snow.
While the researchers behind the Current issues in Tourism study and some Olympians are optimistic that host and participating nations can help reverse the tide of climate change by making and meeting climate commitments, others still have a bleaker outlook.
“The reality is the ship sailed, unfortunately, in my opinion,” said Bode Miller, an American Olympian who won six medals in alpine skiing. PA. “We haven’t made the necessary changes. We kind of missed the window.
There remains, however, hope that presenting such stark reality to the International Olympic Committee and to the nations participating in the Games could make a difference.
“Part of what we do articles like this for is to get the message across that we have a big influence,” Daniel Scott, a professor at the University of Waterloo and co-author of the Tourism study, says PA. “And so, if we act, (there is) the hope of avoiding those worst-case scenarios.”
Hopefully the IOC – and the rest of the world – will heed their warning.
READ MORE: Olympians worried about disappearance of ‘winter’ from Winter Games [The Associated Press]
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