For centuries, sports have been an ideal way of connecting with nature. Many of the sports we see today are built on tradition, including the idea of playing these sports outdoors. In recent decades, one of the biggest concerns humanitarians have found is being able to maintain these playing grounds for generations to come.

To continue playing some of the world’s favorite sports, individuals must actively work to protect the environment on which they depend on for more than just sport. World Environment Day was celebrated on Friday. Although in unusual circumstances, Friday served as a reminder to how important it is to respect and protect our natural environment.

Many sports organizations have spoken out publicly on how they expect to manage their “new normal,” being that many sports’ cultures are built upon fan support and team culture. As a part of its response to the coronavirus epidemic, the International Olympic Committee has emphasized its commitment to minimizing its ecological footprint. It plans on doing so by protecting the environment within its means and raising ample awareness about the importance of doing so.

Many believe the current pandemic has been brought on by environmental degradation, otherwise expected by the state of our world. IOC President Thomas Bach addressed how important it was to focus on sustainability measures beginning with the 2020 Olympics to begin addressing this crisis.

The IOC began promoting sustainability about 30 years ago at the U.N. Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. After four years of discussion, the significance of the environment and sustainable actions were added to the Olympic Charter.

Because of the actions made several decades ago by the IOC, they decided to create a reform program in 2014 called Olympic Agenda 2020. It focused on centering IOC decisions on making positive impacts and minimizing any negative impact on social, economic, and environmental aspects. The IOC has historically been known to support socially-active causes considering they represent an international committee of athletes.

Olympic Committee Leading By Example

The International Olympic Committee has begun leading by example after opening its headquarters, Olympic House, in 2019. Since being built, the Olympic House has been deemed as one of the world’s most sustainable buildings.

The Olympic House produces electricity through its rooftop solar panels. Cooling and heating are produced through water from Lake Geneva, located nearby.

Eight hydrogen-powered vehicles and a hydrogen fueling station can be found on the Olympic House property. These fuel cell electric vehicles, otherwise known as FCEVs, only emit water vapor and air.

The IOC has been praised for its commitment to remaining carbon neutral. Its next feat is becoming climate positive by planting an Olympic Forest that will be included in Africa’s Great Green Wall initiative. Other than helping humans’ carbon footprint, the Olympic Forest would provide many social benefits to surrounding wildlife and locals.

The Olympics Games have been a stamp of international sports since they began in 776 B.C. Because of this, the Games offer an international platform to raise awareness on a global scale. Environmental issues and innovative solutions are able to be heard and analyzed by one of the biggest audiences in the world.

The Olympic Agenda 2020 has changed how the Olympic Games are organized, beginning by simplifying the process. Organizers are focusing on keeping the games sustainable, rather than complex. The IOC has been bashed several times in the past for using Olympic sites inefficiently and without regard for the lasting environmental effects.

Tokyo 2020 is no longer the main focus of the operation, considering how the pandemic has shifted the sports world this year. The IOC is focusing on how it can implement Olympic Agenda 2020 in Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024.

In March 2020, the IOC announced that from 2030 on, all Olympic Games would be “climate positive” and focused on hosting sustainable Games. Beijing plans to power all of its Olympic venues with renewable energy, while Paris plans on building only one sports facility and reducing all carbon emissions by over 50%.

The pandemic has truly made the world more aware of how our actions can directly affect the world around us. Many athletes rely on the environment around them to train, perform, or compete. It is important to consider small actions when working to fix the big picture.