Climate change threatens Winter Olympics and future snow sports – research

Genting Snow Park, a competition venue for snowboarding and freestyle skiing during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, is seen in Beijing, China January 15, 2022. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

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BEIJING, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Climate change threatens the Winter Olympics and the future of snow sports by making conditions far more dangerous for athletes and participants, experts warned in a report released a week ago. before the start of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

The Beijing Games, which begin on February 4, will be the first Winter Olympics to use virtually 100 percent artificial snow by deploying more than 100 snow generators and 300 snow cannons working hard to cover the ski slopes.

“It’s not only energy and water-intensive, frequently using chemicals to slow melting, but also provides a surface that many competitors say is unpredictable and potentially dangerous,” said the report, written by experts. researchers from the Sport Ecology Group at Loughborough University in England. and environmental group Protect Our Winters.

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Located in naturally arid climates, the two co-host cities, Beijing and Zhangjiakou, could use about 49 million gallons of chemically treated water frozen by snow machines, according to the research.

Despite China repeatedly claiming to use only natural rainfall and recycled water to make snow, there are concerns that the high rate of water use will put additional pressure on already existing resources. rare in the region. Read more

Natural snow is becoming less plentiful in some areas and the availability of water for snowmaking is decreasing due to climate change, putting the global snow sports industry at risk.

“Riding through erratic snow seasons and rapidly melting low-level resorts is now the norm for many competitors,” the research says.

“The risk is clear: human-caused warming threatens the long-term future of winter sports. It also reduces the number of climatically suitable host venues for the Winter Olympics,” he said. .

Of the 21 venues used for the Winter Games since Chamonix 1924, researchers estimate that by 2050 only 10 will have the “climate suitability” and natural snowfall levels to host an event.

Chamonix is ​​now classified as “high risk” with sites in Norway, France and Austria, while Vancouver, Sochi and Squaw Valley in the United States are deemed “unreliable”.

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Reporting by Muyu Xu and David Stanway; Editing by Michael Perry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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