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An evaluation of the sustainability of the Olympic Games


Müller, Martin; Wolfe, Sven Daniel; Gaffney, Christopher; Gogishvili, David; Hug, Miriam; Leick, Annick (2021). An evaluation of the sustainability of the Olympic Games. Nature Sustainability, 4(4):340-348.

Abstract

The Olympic Games claim to be exemplars of sustainability, aiming to inspire sustainable futures around the world. Yet no systematic evaluation of their sustainability exists. We develop and apply a model with nine indicators to evaluate the sustainability of the 16 editions of the Summer and Winter Olympic Games between 1992 and 2020, representing a total cost of more than US$70 billion. Our model shows that the overall sustainability of the Olympic Games is medium and that it has declined over time. Salt Lake City 2002 was the most sustainable Olympic Games in this period, whereas Sochi 2014 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 were the least sustainable. No Olympics, however, score in the top category of our model. Three actions should make Olympic hosting more sustainable: first, greatly reducing the size of the event; second, rotating the Olympics among the same cities; third, enforcing independent sustainability standards.

Abstract

The Olympic Games claim to be exemplars of sustainability, aiming to inspire sustainable futures around the world. Yet no systematic evaluation of their sustainability exists. We develop and apply a model with nine indicators to evaluate the sustainability of the 16 editions of the Summer and Winter Olympic Games between 1992 and 2020, representing a total cost of more than US$70 billion. Our model shows that the overall sustainability of the Olympic Games is medium and that it has declined over time. Salt Lake City 2002 was the most sustainable Olympic Games in this period, whereas Sochi 2014 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 were the least sustainable. No Olympics, however, score in the top category of our model. Three actions should make Olympic hosting more sustainable: first, greatly reducing the size of the event; second, rotating the Olympics among the same cities; third, enforcing independent sustainability standards.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Global and Planetary Change
Life Sciences > Food Science
Social Sciences & Humanities > Geography, Planning and Development
Physical Sciences > Ecology
Physical Sciences > Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
Social Sciences & Humanities > Urban Studies
Physical Sciences > Nature and Landscape Conservation
Physical Sciences > Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
Uncontrolled Keywords:Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law, Nature and Landscape Conservation, Urban Studies, Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment, Ecology, Geography, Planning and Development, Food Science, Global and Planetary Change
Language:English
Date:19 April 2021
Deposited On:16 Feb 2023 11:54
Last Modified:30 Jan 2024 02:44
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2398-9629
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-021-00696-5