The Olympics’ Overarching Environmental Disposition

The Olympics are a beloved tradition across the world, bringing aspiring athletes to their glory by their very presence at the event, some even to gold. However, with the state of our planet, there is a lot of debate about the ethics of its existence. And with the state of China’s government and unsteady conflict amongst nations, it begs the question of the necessity and safety of the Olympics as an event. 

It’s no great secret that our Earth is in an ongoing crisis in regards to the environment, and with every Olympics venue change comes a 10% increase in carbon footprint from air travel alone. The damage due to construction, toxic waste, and unsustainable building processes because of how swiftly these sites are built is astronomical一up to 5,500 tons of waste including the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Because of this, numerous nations have taken themselves out of the ring for potential hosting, taking the environmental impact into play for once. However, it is far from enough. 

The Olympics being hosted in Beijing this year has already furrowed the brow of plenty of nations and their citizens, with many boycotting the games due to continuous ailments in China’s government, such as the Uyghur Genocide, among other oppressive aspects of the Communist Regime. To many, it is only an even further irresponsible decision to hold an event as extreme and expansive as the Olympic Games in a country as polluted and environmentally compromised as China. It ranks 14th in the world for the worst air quality, as well as an already colossal population of 1.4 billion一number one in the world. Some also may beg the question of how it climatically makes sense to host the Winter Olympics in a place where snow is scarce, even in the wintertime. The country’s solution, however, is fake snow. For the first time in Olympic history, all snow used on the slopes is 100% fake, even further thickening the murky waters of the competition’s fairness and legitimacy. Not to mention the effect fake snow can have on biodiversity, damaging the already fluctuating number of plants and wildlife in Beijing due to industrial trauma. 

To make matters worse, most Olympics areas, camps, and venues are abandoned, with billions of dollars needed for repurposing, most of which proprietors of the country do not care to spend. Despite its hype and greatness for athletes and patriots, the Olympics are indeed a very wasteful event, and it seems big solutions by leading nations have been rather miniscule in terms of repurposing venues (arguably the most detrimental aspect of it). For instance, Tokyo claimed to have repurposed 99% of procured objects used in Summer of 2021, with medals made of electronic waste, and recycled plastic uniforms according to the IOC. It has been proposed numerous times in the past that the utilities for athletes be made of biodegradable materials that would cause less harm, like cardboard beds and recycled architecture for training, although that has also begged the question of ethics for the athletes, as they need proper equipment and facilities as well. Some countries, however, may be avid about this idea as it could potentially deflate the balloon of the Olympic price tag by great amounts. 

Then again, there is the grand idea of simply holding the Olympics in the same location every year, preferably in the form of some kind of island, overseen by the United Nations. It could allegedly be a potential experiment in architecture, with infinite possibilities of sustainable options for travel between training sites and performing venues, like electric buses. However, it is all a work in progress, and we still have a long way to go before the people in charge can make rational decisions in regards to what is not only right for their country’s temporary glory, but the future of the nation’s environment.

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