Climate change delays choice of host for the Winter Olympics

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Climate change delays choice of host for the Winter Olympics

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) is considering modifying the format of the Winter Olympics, using a rotating list of host cities, rather than electing a new venue every four years, as it grapples with the effects of climate change.

The committee said it will hold off on choosing the 2030 Winter Games – a decision originally scheduled for next year – while its executive board reviews academic research on climate sustainability, proposals to rotate the Olympics between a host group and lists climate criteria that those locations would need to comply.

The 2026 Winter Olympics are already scheduled for Milan-Cortina, Italy.

A possible redesign of the Winter Olympics could be the most significant change in the logistics of the global sporting event since the IOC opted to separate these Games from their summer counterpart in 1994. The decision to delay the selection of a host to 2030 also comes amid dwindling enthusiasm, particularly in Europe, for big bids to host the sporting event.

Octavian Morariu, a member of the IOC’s executive board, who is leading the review, said in a statement that “the new and flexible approach to choosing Olympic hosts is designed so that the IOC can respond quickly and effectively to changing global circumstances. “.

Among the IOC’s concerns are widespread declines in global snow cover as Earth’s average temperatures continue to rise. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States meteorological agency, snow cover in the American Arctic has been below average for 15 consecutive years.

The IOC said it would consider a proposal that future Winter Games host cities “will need to show subzero average minimum temperatures at snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a ten-year period”.

Three previous Winter Games hosts have said they are interested in potentially hosting the event in 2030, including Salt Lake City in the US, Sapporo in Japan and Vancouver in Canada.

In October, British Columbia’s Minister for the Arts, Tourism and Culture said the Canadian province would not support a bid from Vancouver, citing billions of dollars in direct costs and liability risks “that could compromise the government’s ability to cope with pressures.” faced by the population at the moment”.

Fraser Bullock, chief executive of the Salt Lake City offering, said the decision to postpone the 2030 venue came as a surprise. “Although it was disappointing, the context was good,” he said, referring to the IOC’s concerns about climate change.

Bullock said Salt Lake City, Utah, will continue to prepare a bid for the 2030 or 2034 events, in addition to becoming a rotating host. “We would love to be a candidate,” he said.

The high costs of hosting the Games, together with the lack of support in public referendums, forced the IOC to rethink its process for awarding sporting events. The organization, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, opted to award the 2028 Olympic Games to Los Angeles at the same time as it would concede the 2024 Olympics to Paris, after both cities competed for the previous berth.

Six cities originally applied for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which ended up being hosted by Beijing. Four withdrew ahead of the IOC election, leaving choices between the Chinese capital and Almaty, Kazakhstan.

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