Happy New Year, GreenSportsBlog readers! I hope you had a happy holiday season.
2020 promises to be a massive year in Green-Sports. With that in mind, let’s take a look at What 2 Watch 4 in Green-Sports for 2020.
January 20-February 2: Australian Open, Melbourne
The Australian Open, played in the middle of the Southern Hemisphere summer, has often been plagued in recent years by scalding, sometimes dangerous heat.
This year’s tournament may also be impacted by the record-setting bushfires that have devastated large swaths of the country.
In prior years, the infernos were mostly limited to the sparsely populated central and western parts of the country. But the excessively dry and and unusually hot fourth quarter of 2019 saw the infernos spread much further east into the populated areas of the states of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
Melbourne is the capital of the latter. The city was blanketed by smoke from blazes burning to the east on Saturday, compromising air quality.
With the start of the tournament still two weeks out, whether the fires will still be ongoing near Melbourne is still an open question. That said, concern among players, Tennis Australia and fans is understandably on the rise.
Novak Djokovic, the world’s #2 ranked men’s player and the president of the ATP Players Council said Sunday that delaying the start of the tournament must now be considered, albeit as a last resort.
“I mean…if it comes down to those conditions affecting the health of players, I think we should definitely consider it,” Djokovic told reporters in Brisbane, where he is playing for Serbia in the inaugural ATP Cup team event. “I think that’s probably the very, very last option for anything. I think they’re going to try to do anything to not delay in terms of days and when it starts…[but] because of some extreme weather and conditions, you just have to consider it.”
What is the role of climate change in the bushfires?
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison is skeptical at best. He told ABC AU Radio in November that there was no “credible scientific evidence” that cutting carbon emissions could reduce the severity of the fires.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology disagrees, saying, “Climate change is influencing the frequency and severity of dangerous bushfire conditions in Australia”.
Will tennis players and/or other athletes in Australia make the bushfire-climate change link?
Russell Crowe provided them with a template Sunday night.
The actor stayed at home with his family in Australia because of the fires rather than traveling to Los Angeles for the Golden Globe Awards. Jennifer Aniston read this statement from Crowe after he won Best Actor in a Limited Series for The Loudest Voice:
“Make no mistake, the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based. We need to act based on science, move our global work force to renewable energy and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way, we have a future. Thank you.”
February 2: Super Bowl LIV; Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
With the backdrop of climate change-infused sea level rise that threatens the Atlantic coast of South Florida, the Miami Super Bowl Committee has made the environment a key focus in the run up to the Big Game.
The Committee’s greening efforts, from dives to restore coral reefs to Python Bowl I¹ to the Environmental Village at Super Bowl Live, are and will be on display for visiting fans and locals alike.
Will Fox Sports and the NFL promote the Super Bowl LIV green story to the many millions of viewers across the United States and beyond? To be determined. The Miami Super Bowl Host Committee has little to no influence on the national and international broadcasts.
March 17-18: Sport Positive Summit; Wembley Stadium, London, England
There have been many Green-Sports-themed summits over the last decade, but never has one been focused on how the sports world can 1) get to a low carbon future, and 2) educate and engage fans on climate change.
Until the Sport Positive Summit, that is.
This first annual Summit is the brainchild of London-based Sustainable Sportpreneur Claire Poole, and is a collaboration of the UNFCCC Global Climate Action and the International Olympic Committee. It will bring together the signatories of the UN’s Sport for Climate Action Framework as well as the growing Green-Sports community.
Full disclosure: GreenSportsBlog is a media partner of the Sport Positive Summit.
June 17-18: Green Sports Alliance Summit X; US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
It is fitting that the tenth annual Green Sports Alliance Summit will take place in the Twin Cities — it is, according to a June 2019 GSB series, the Green-Sports-y-est metro area in the country. One big reason for that designation is this: Minneapolis and St. Paul are home to five LEED certified venues.
In fact, US Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings and host of the summit, recently became the first sports venue to earn LEED Platinum for operations and maintenance.
July 24-August 9: Games of the XXXII Olympiad; Tokyo, Japan
Extreme heat will likely be an uncomfortable subplot at the Tokyo Olympics if 2019 is any guide. Consider that, between July 24 and August 9 of last year, the daily high temperature in Japan’s capital city averaged 92°F (33.3°C), six degrees above the 30-year average.
The late July-early August time period has long been known for sweltering temperatures in that part of Japan. That’s why the 1964 Tokyo Games took place during the much more temperate mid-to-late October.
Fast forward to 2020 and, thanks to the effects of climate change, even October might be too hot.
“Fundamentally, we should not be having the Tokyo Olympics in midsummer,” said Makoto Yokohari, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Tokyo. “Considering climate change, now it should be held in November (ITALS my emphasis).”
Why not an October or November Tokyo Olympics in 2020? One likely reason has to be that the IOC wants to avoid competing for viewers with the top soccer leagues, most of which start their seasons in late August. So, summer games are now only contested between late June and mid August.
- The men’s and women’s marathons, plus the race walking events, have been moved to the much cooler Sapporo, host city for the 1972 Winter Olympics, 500 miles north of Tokyo.
- The 2019 Tokyo women’s triathlon, a major prep event for 2020, was shortened due to extreme heat and humidity.
- Organizers is installing misting fans, designating cooling areas, and will pass out ice packs to spectators, volunteers and athletes.
Will NBC Sports share the climate aspects of the Tokyo 2020 story with its millions of viewers?
Watch this space.
July 25-26: SoFi Stadium, New Home of the NFL’s LA Chargers and Rams Opens, Hollywood Park
Taylor Swift will open SoFi Stadium in late July before the Chargers and Rams start playing preseason games there in August. The palatial $5 billion, 70,000 seat structure is billed as “the world’s first indoor-outdoor stadium,” thanks to its transparent roof canopy that will also cover an adjacent 6,000 seat arena and a plaza.
Unfortunately, as far as the environment is concerned, information about SoFi Stadium’s sustainability features and benefits is hard to find.
This is striking since we are in an age of most new sports venues playing a virtuous game of “Can You Top This?” from a green perspective.
Does the canopy provide an energy savings benefit? Will there be on-site solar at the complex? Does the fact that the playing field is 100 feet below ground level mean that air conditioning usage will be lower than if it was at or above ground level?
At least the Rams and Chargers are sharing SoFi Stadium. That is preferable, environmentally speaking, to building two new venues.
November 3: Election Day in the U.S.
“What is the best thing I can do to do my part to positively impact the climate crisis?”
I get that question a lot.
Here are my two simple answers:
- VOTE for candidates, from top of the ballot to the bottom, who advocate for policies that effectively address climate change.
- Urge your friends, family, coworkers, everyone, to do the same.
¹ Python Bowl I is a contest among licensed python hunters. It is designed to reduce the number of invasive Burmese pythons that are threatening over 70 federally threatened or endangered species native to The Everglades.