Saving the Planet

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: What we know about the Games ‘climate-wise’

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From the early 1900s until the present times, the Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition. After all, if it wasn’t for the prestige associated with athletic contests, organizers wouldn’t have braved erratic climatic changes not to mention the Coronavirus.

Well, it’s concluded much to the excitement of sports fans, so there’s no use bemoaning it, right? To be sure, the concluded Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games were equal parts exhilarating and challenging, at least for the athletes that participated in the Games.

Dubbed the hottest on record, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was surely a memorable one from an environmental point of view.  Here are some things we know about the biggest sporting events in the world.

Postponed due to Covid-19

Held every four years, Olympics 2020 was meant to hold in the same year. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was delayed. According to ESPN, the Olympic Games had never been postponed or canceled for anything except war. Having disrupted every aspect of life globally, it is unsurprising that the pandemic would also impact a major sporting event.

Covid-19 is very much around with different variants cropping up across the world. You may wonder why the Tokyo Olympics were still held after all.  One reason is that the “event is a mammoth undertaking, both for the Organising Committee and the country as a whole.

First of all, you need to secure the availability of the Olympic Village, since that is at the heart of the Games. The same applies to all the sports venues. Thousands of people will need to carry on working. All the partners, sponsors, and regional and local governments need to pull together,” the International Olympics Committee website explained.

Apart from the devastating setback it would have been financially, another cancelation of the Games would also affect the morale of athletes- many of whom are young and have been training to qualify for the Olympics.

Climate-induced heat threatened athletes’ performances

You probably have heard time and again that climate change is an existential crisis of our time. Let’s hear what climate experts have said about the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games from an environmental point of view.

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced, affecting sport alongside so many other human activities,” said Marie Sallois, IOC Director for Corporate and Sustainable Development.

Like in every other aspect of human endeavors, she believes that sporting events must constantly adapt to the impacts of climate disruption, and the Olympic Games are no exception. “As a global event with a huge visibility, the Games also carry the responsibility to take effective action to address it,” she said.

Since the commencement of the Games on July 23, high temperatures rose up between 29-33C (84-91F)  with humidity frequently taking the wet bulb temperature to a level the Japanese ministry of environment’s website labeled “danger.”
Due to extreme temperature, a number of athletes succumbed to heatstroke, fainting, dehydration, and exhaustion among other health issues.

Planners showed commitment to a more sustainable future

As part of the organizing committee’s dedication to ensuring the environmental sustainability of the Games, the Olympic Movement made significant efforts to reduce its footprint and contribute to a climate-friendly society.

One of such steps was the use of sustainable materials in every facet of the event ranging from recyclable cardboards for athletes to sleep on; podiums made from recycled plastics and medals fashioned out of electronic waste.

In terms of energy usage, the planners set a good example through their reliance on hydrogen generated in a sustainable way through solar energy.

Interestingly, this was used to light up the Olympic flame, power cars and buses commuting between venues, as well as electrify the Olympic Village. Even more important, the Tokyo 2020 Games have raised the bar on sustainability for the organizers of upcoming events in the Beijing Winter Olympics (2022), Paris (2024), Los Angeles (2028), and Brisbane (2032).