Winter sports : The Winter Olympics

Ski Jump Freestyle 1

© Alexandre Boullot

The Sochi 2014 Winter Games will be the first Winter Games hosted by the Russian Federation. The Sochi Olympic Park, where indoor venues will be located, is being built in Krasnodar, a city on the Black Sea, and development will include ecological rehabilitation of urban areas. For mountain venues, construction is taking place in the Krasnaya Polyana village region, which falls on the border of the Sochi National Park, within the Western Caucausus UNESCO World Heritage Site and biosphere reserve. This unique ecosystem is home to such rare and endangered species as the West Caucasian chamois and tur. To accommodate the Games, the Park turned some of its area into ‘recreation zones’, while land from nearby forests has been redesignated as national parkland to make up for the loss. Animal habitats in and around the Park and biosphere reserve will be enhanced, and bobsleigh and luge tracks will be built away from fragile areas. An Environmental Discovery Centre within the Park will help educate the next generation.

The 1992 Lillehammer Olympic Games saw the first flowering of Olympic environmental concern. Local townspeople encouraged Olympic sponsors to give close attention to environmental issues, including the integrity of a bird sanctuary and virgin forests.

The organizers of the Torino 2006 Winter Games were concerned with the amount of water required to make artificial snow. With careful research and planning, the original estimate of 20 reservoirs needed was reduced to nine, minimizing water-resource impact and permanently improving the local water system.

The level of environmental care at the Vancouver 2010 Games extended to the smallest of creatures: frogs and tadpoles disrupted by construction at the Whistler Creekside alpine ski venue were moved 40 metres upstream by hand, while locally significant plants in the way of a snow-making reservoir were replanted in a nearby wetland.

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