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Sport and sustainability

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The relationship between sports and the environment is complex.

Sometimes the relationship can be positive. Sports that depend on the natural environment, such as windsurfing or mountain biking, can help foster an appreciation of nature in participants and spectators.

But sport can also damage the environment. For instance, huge tracts of land are cleared to make way for golf courses, and ski resorts can cause massive alpine destruction.

Mega sporting events such as the Olympic Games bring about a special set of environmental conditions. Despite taking place in industrialised, urban centres, the impact on the natural environment can be significant.

Creating the infrastructure to support thousands of athletes and spectators uses a great deal of energy, creates waste, and places huge physical demands on the natural environment. As researchers look back through the history of the modern Games it is evident that sustainability has not always been at the forefront of the Olympic charter.

Previous Games have been blighted by problems of waste management, pollution and wildlife destruction. Communities have been left with derelict stadiums and irrelevant facilities, and Government spending has sometimes taken financial resources away from other crucial projects to fund the Games infrastructure. These issues go against the principles of sustainability.

Since the notion of sustainability was introduced to the Olympic Charter, the International Olympic Committee has been anxious to reverse the negative environmental image of the GamesOlympics. From 1994, potential host cities have been obliged to demonstrate their commitment to a Green Games and this concept has become one of the fundamental aspects of the Olympics process. The IOC has thereby established itself as one of the leading bodies in the pursuit of environmental stability.

Getting started with the British Library's collections

Jarvie, Grant. Sport, culture and society : an introduction London:
Routledge, 2006.
London reference collections shelfmark SPIS306.483

DS shelfmark: m06/17290

Lenskyj, Helen. The best Olympics ever?: Social impacts of Sydney 2000 New York: State University of New York Press, c2002.
DS shelfmark: m00/37494

Lenskyj, Helen. Inside the Olympic industry : power, politics and activism New York: State University of New York Press, 2000.
DS shelfmark m00/37494

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