Global warming is making it difficult to organize sporting tournaments, but it’s an even greater threat to small local clubs. Meanwhile, Big Sport is taking the lead in climate hypocrisy.
This is a good time for last year’s snow. Not long ago, this term was used to describe something that has no meaning, that doesn’t concern us, that has no value. As the temperature has risen, the situation has changed. The 2014 Olympics in Sochi didn’t happen on the freshest of snow, nor did countless World Cups in alpine, freestyle and cross-country skiing, and ski jumping. We’re getting better and better at preserving last year’s snow; snowfarming is helping winter sports and the resorts that live off of skiers and snowboarders to hang on. But only to hang on.
Since 1924, the Winter Olympics have been held in 21 cities. Scientists are sounding the alarm that even with a reduction in greenhouse gases, by 2050 eight of them will be unable to host the event. It’s not just about the games themselves. Organizing an event once every four years isn’t a problem. But who’s going to compete if there’s no place to train? When mass schussing and trekking on skis becomes impossible, the number of professionals will drop. Perhaps downhill and cross-country skiers don’t face the fate of potters, typesetters and saddlers, but their situation is certainly unclear. “You can essentially kiss winter sports goodbye in the not-too-distant future,” said Niclas Svenningsen of the UN. “You can basically only have winter sports in high-altitude alpine regions for a very limited period of time in the year.”
So the sports business is one of the victims of the climate catastrophe. But at the same time, they’re not doing much to counteract it