How Green Are the Olympic Games?

green athletes olympics

Going into the London Olympic games, Green Prophet covered issues affecting Arab athletes who planned to compete in the 26th modern Olympiad since the games were revived in Athens in 1896. These are also religious ones, such as whether Muslim athletes could be exempted from fasting on Ramadan, as well as the perennial one over proper clothing for female Muslim athletes, especially the wearing of the hijab headscarf while competing in Olympic sporting events.

In addition to issues affecting Muslim athletes, there were also ones involving Jewish athletes being able to compete on the first two days of the 17 day competition, due to those days being the  Sabbath and the fast day of the Ninth of Av. which occurred on Sunday, July 29,  commemorates some of the darkest moments in Jewish history.

But these types of issues have always been around and have affected athletes in other types of sporting competitions as well.  With the International Olympic Committee making great strides to emphasize the meaning of the games within the framework of global community and pure athletic competition, we might take some time to dwell on the games themselves within the framework of whether gigantic sporting events like the Olympiad are contributing anything towards helping make the world environment a better for humanity.

This particular Olympiad is taking place during some of the most serious world problems involving  global warming and climate change. Some of these problems involve massive flooding in China, dangerously severe drought conditions in much of the USA as well in as in the Middle East, and unusually rapid melting of Arctic glaciers and ice fields in places like Greenland.

This year, the City of London, sponsor of the XXVI Olympiad, has made great efforts to make the city and especially the Olympic Village more environmentally friendly or green.

These efforts include creating special parks and green belts that will stay in place long after the games are concluded; special traffic lanes to bring visitors to and from the locations of the sporting events, trying to reduce the mega-city’s carbon footprint by reducing exhaust emissions; and by making efforts to educate both residents and visitors on the advantages of waste recycling in order to significantly reduce the amount of non-organic wastes being sent to landfills.

Even in normal periods, London is one of the largest cities in the world with more than 8.27 million inhabitants and between 12 and 14 million people in the entire metropolitan area. Just cleaning up after various sporting events, and after both the opening and closing ceremonies are logistical challenges in themselves, employing thousands of both part and full time personnel.

Regarding energy consumption, a number of projects by the London municipality have been on-going to reduce energy consumption by encouraging people to walk or ride bicycles within the Olympic areas, and by use of renewable energy.

A number of Olympic athletes, including a group of 12 American “green” athletes who are themselves environmental activists and have brought their ideas towards helping to save the planet along with them to the competitions.

Calling themselves the “Go Green Team” these young men and women are talking about climate change being a scary thought, especially  for athletes who rely on snow and ice for their winter Olympic sports. They are also advocating eating  more ‘veggies’ and less meat, and to make more overall efforts towards recycling in both the games themselves and back home.

While athletes themselves are generally more green themselves, simply because they are physically fit and eat more healthy diets than people who eat fast foods and are more often known as “couch potatoes”, the green example of the lifestyles of athletes themselves can be an inspiration to all of us long after the games come to an end.

More on Olympics:
Female Arab Athletes with Headscarf Problems, Again?
Middle East Olympians Exempted From Ramadan Fasting
The Wrath of Global Warming and the Middle East
Greenland’s Melting Glaciers Will Affect Your Middle East

Image of green athletes from Shutterstock

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