“Appeal to set the green bar high”
“May I appeal to you to set the bar very high and to challenge yourselves with new, innovative and daring proposals!” It was with this appeal that IOC President Jacques Rogge today concluded his speech to the participants of the VII World Conference on Sport and Environment in Beijing.
The IOC President based his appeal on the responsibility of the Olympic Movement to actively promote a healthy environment and on the IOC’s responsibility to set good standards in this field. According to him this responsibility and effort is driven by three major concerns.
The first is the overall social responsibility of the Olympic Movement. “Sport does not live in splendid isolation, but is part of our society and has to play an active role in several fields. For this reason we consider the protection of the environment as the third pillar of the Olympic Movement”, Rogge declared.
Global warming jeopardises sport
The second reason is the impact that a damaged environment can have on sport, the Olympic Games and, most importantly, the athletes. Rogge expressed his serious concerns: “Be it the elite athletes participating in the Olympic Games or grass-roots athletes in millions of sport clubs over the world – they need clean and healthy conditions in which to train and compete. We are all too aware that the fragile condition of the environment could therefore pose a direct threat to the future of sport. Global warming will jeopardise sport in the long term, and, for example, the very existence of winter sports in many areas of the world.”
Sustainability of the Games a must
The third issue is, according to Rogge, the strong effort to promote sustainability in the preparations for the Olympic Games. The last Olympic Games in Turin proved to be an excellent example of a sustainable sports event. In view of the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, the IOC President expressed his trust and concerns: “We know that Beijing 2008 has to tackle important environmental issues. These problems are linked to the impressive economic development in China. The Olympic Games have brought some of these problems to the surface, and encouraged the authorities to tackle them faster and more effectively as the City wants to present the best conditions to the world’s best athletes. Among the most notable initiatives are efforts to close down polluting factories in the city, eliminate 300,000 motor vehicles with high emissions, transform coal-burning furnaces to natural gas in the downtown area, forestation projects, and the control of dust particles from construction sites.
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