Only six of the previous Winter Olympics host cities will be cold enough
to reliably host the Games by the end of this century if global warming
projections prove accurate.
WATERLOO, ON, Jan. 23, 2014 /CNW/ - Even with conservative climate
projections, only 11 of the previous 19 sites could host the Games in
the coming decades, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo (Canada) and Management Center Innsbruck (Austria).
"The cultural legacy of the world's celebration of winter sport is
increasingly at risk," said Professor Daniel Scott, a Canada Research
Chair in Global Tourism and lead author of the study. "Fewer and fewer
traditional winter sports regions will be able to host a Olympic Winter
Games in a warmer world."
The study finds that internationally renowned Olympic sites, such as
Squaw Valley (USA), Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany), Vancouver
(Canada) and Sochi (Russia) would no longer have climates suitable to
reliably host the Games by the middle of the 21st century. With additional warming projected for later decades of this
century, as few as six former host locations would remain climatically
"This report clearly points out the challenges that lie ahead for the
Olympics because of climate change," said Chris Steinkamp, executive
director of Protect Our Winters and who was not involved with the study. "It's particularly powerful to
see how past Olympic host cities could be impacted under a higher
emission scenario, so hopefully this will serve as a wake up call to
the IOC and world leaders that major commitments to carbon reductions
need to be made."
The need for weather risk management strategies by Olympic organizers
has intensified as the average February daytime temperature of Winter
Games locations has steadily increased - from 0.4°C at Games held in
the 1920-50s, to 3.1°C in Games during the 1960-90s, and 7.8°C in Games
held in the 21st century.
"Today it would be difficult to imagine successfully delivering the
diverse Games program exclusively on natural ice and snow, as it was in
the early decades of the Olympic Winter Games," said Dr. Robert Steiger
of the Management Center Innsbruck.
Weather risk management will become even more important in the coming
decades with average February temperatures in past Winter Olympic host
locations expected to warm an additional 1.9 to 2.1°C by mid-century
and 2.7 to 4.4°C in late century.
The study found that the success of the Games is often partially
attributed to favourable weather, while poor weather is highlighted as
one of the greatest challenges faced by Olympic Organizing Committees.
Weather affects the ability to prepare for the Games and can directly
impact outdoor opening and closing ceremonies, fairness of outdoor
competitions, spectator comfort, transportation, and visibility and
timing of television broadcasts.
The study also examines how technological advancements and strategies
developed over several decades have been used to manage weather risk at
the Winter Olympics. Technology like snowmaking, track/jump
refrigeration and high-resolution weather forecasting are now critical
components of staging a successful Winter Games.
"Despite technological advances, there are limits to what current
weather risk management strategies can cope with," said Professor
Scott. "By the middle of this century, these limits will be surpassed
in some former Winter Olympic host regions."
The study provides an important opportunity for reflection on the
long-term implications of global climate change for the world of sport
and the world's collective cultural heritage symbolized by the Olympic
Movement. It also reveals that for some cities and regions interested
in hosting a future Winter Olympics, the time to bid for the games
might be sooner than later.
Download a copy of the report: The Future of the Winter Olympics in a
About the University of Waterloo
In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart
of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading
comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in
undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's
largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its
connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in
learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is
committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by
championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant
to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about
Waterloo, please visit www.uwaterloo.ca.
Attention broadcasters: Waterloo has facilities to provide broadcast
quality audio and video feeds with a double-ender studio. Please contact us for to book.
Image with caption: "A man carries his skis as snow melts at the limit of the ski slopes in Whistler on February 8, 2010. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images) (CNW Group/University of Waterloo)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140123_C4604_PHOTO_EN_35778.jpg
Image with caption: "A sign warns spectators that a ski session is delayed at Park City, Salt Lake Winter Olympics, February 8, 2002 (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images) (CNW Group/University of Waterloo)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140123_C4604_PHOTO_EN_35779.jpg
Image with caption: "Chart showing former Winter Olympic locations that are climatically suitable for future Games (Professor Daniel Scott, University of Waterloo) (CNW Group/University of Waterloo)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140123_C4604_PHOTO_EN_35784.jpg
SOURCE: University of Waterloo
For further information:
University of Waterloo