Taking a break to talk about sports: “Together for a Shared Future”
Those who know me well are aware that I care very little about sports - except, of course, every four years when the Soccer World Cup is on, and even then, only if Argentina is playing… That said, today is the opening of the 2022 Winter Olympics, an international multisport event, taking place in Beijing, China. The motto of this year’s games is “Together for a Shared Future”. In the past, I have enjoyed watching bits of the opening ceremonies and the event. It is always amazing to watch the athletes’ fabulous dexterity and skills, defying gravity and testaments to what the human body can achieve… A historical spectacle with a global audience, marveled at it for days until its conclusion on February 20.
Today I learned that these Winter Olympics will be the first in history to rely solely on artificial snow. While there is snow in the regions where some of the events will be held, it is not reliable enough to be available for the entirety of the Games.
According to a report coauthored by Georgia State University, it is estimated that 49 million gallons of water, 130 fan-operated snow generators and 300 snow-making guns will be needed by the host committee to create 1.2 million cubic meters of fake snow for the events.
In addition to the challenges that the athletes will face due to the difference in competing on real vs. artificial snow (real snow is softer than fake one; thus, in competitions using artificial one, courses get faster and icier, and it ends up being potentially more dangerous if competitors fall off course on rocks and trees…), what horrifies me is the magnitude of vital resources used (wasted?) – water, energy – that are processed in the name of this event. Moreover, even with the ever-growing climate crisis, artificial snow may become more popular in the Olympics moving forward. And all for a sports event…?
Maybe it is easy for me to feel this way since I am not an Olympics fanatic, but our world is at a critical stage in which every institution and industry is starting to (not fast enough perhaps) find solutions for the dilemma of keeping up with business as they turn towards more environmentally sustainable practices.
I hope that future Olympics can keep up the beautiful spirit of sportsmanship, the celebration of the beauty of being human – pushing our physical and mental limits, regardless of one’s nationality – in a way that is environmentally sustainable and does not contribute to the continued depletion of our valuable resources, and pollution of our planet. Then, and only then, will the 2022 Winter Olympics motto make sense to every citizen of the world, human or not.
Image: “The Glaciers are Melting”, acrylic, and acrylic and ink pen on corrugated cardboard, 14 x 14 inches, available. It may be still in progress… If you have comments or questions about this artwork or others on my website, please contact me here.