With less than 3 days to go before the Olympics start (women’s soccer kicks off before the opening ceremonies), I have officially been diagnosed with Olympic fever (note: self diagnosis). So with the Olympic spirit in mind, the theme for the next batch of posts will be the Olympics.
Since the early 1990’s, the Olympic movement has progressively taken the environment and sustainability into account throughout the lifecycle of an Olympic Games project. The environment has become the third pillar of the Olympics, alongside sport and culture. In fact, the importance of hosting a Green Games is now acknowledged as part of the Olympic Charter “encourage and support a responsible concern for environmental issues, to promote sustainable development in sport and require that the Olympic Games are held accordingly.”
Hosting the Olympics is a massive undertaking that causes a huge impact on the environment of the host city and beyond. Olympic Games can affect the environment in a number of highly-visible ways. The construction and operation of sports venues combined with the influx of thousands of people has the potential to severely damage the environment. For example, improper disposal of human and other waste products can pollute soil and water, poor transportation planning can contribute to decreased air quality and ozone depletion, inefficient technology used to maintain facilities can damage natural ecosystems. Fortunately, sound planning can minimize potential harm and can ensure a legacy that will enhance the environment.
With those considerations in mind the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) have set out to ensure that this, the 30th Summer Olympiad, has a positive legacy and inspires and unites people across the World.
One of the first steps in staging an Olympics is to ensure that there are facilities to host the events. With 26 Olympic Sports and 20 Paralympic Sports, it is the equivalent of staging 46 World Championships simultaneously. This fact works out to about 14,700 athletes, 21,000 media and 10.8 million ticket-holders, clearly there needs to be some major facilities to accommodate this influx of people. The Telegraph has a great guide to the 30 venues that will be used during for the Games. The Wall Street Journal has a great feature on the design of the Olympic Stadium, particularly focusing on its after the games life. No doubt the organizers are hoping for a legacy as great as that seen in Helsinki.
Upcoming posts will look at the depiction of the Olympics in popular culture, the economic cost of hosting a games, the science of doping, the role of technology (and robots?!), the food and music of the Games, and some surprises as the story of the Games begins to unfold.