The theme of the Agora which took place on 25 May might appear a little broad: Sport and sustainable development. However, through very concrete examples, the guests at this evening event proved that, thanks to a real willingness and the active commitment of the sports movement, it was possible to take action for the present and the future in the area of sustainable development. Going far beyond respecting the environment or the ecology advocated over the past few years, sustainable development includes not only environmental, but also economic and social aspects.
London 2012 – a “sustainable” project
David Stubbs, Head of Environment and Sustainable Development Operations Department for the Olympic Games in London in 2012, provided concrete examples of the role that can be played by an Olympic Games Candidate, and, subsequently Host City. For London, the site chosen to be the Olympic Park of the 2012 Olympic Games was an industrial wasteland in the city’s east end, the project being to regenerate this abandoned, polluted and rough neighbourhood. From the outset, the three economic, environmental and social aspects were taken into account and everything was planned and implemented with them in mind: decontamination of the ground, construction of new buildings using recyclable materials, creation of green zones, new public transport networks, and an education campaign on light mobility. Everything is planned to have a minimal impact on the environment, and it has all been thought out on a long-term basis: creation of jobs and training opportunities before the Games and reuse of the infrastructure after them. For London, 75 pence of every pound dedicated to infrastructure development is for legacy purposes.
A long-term vision linked to town and country planning
The famous ski slope designer, Bernhard Russi, also referred to the notion of job-creation for local personnel, as well as to the sustainability of the facilities that will be set up in Sochi for the 2014 Games. The same was true for Nathalie Durant, Director General of the French Observatory of Sport and Sustainable Development, who said: “The Olympic Games are fleeting, but, behind them, there is a long-term vision linked to town and country planning.” For Bernhard Russi, winter sports, especially those held in the mountains, rely on nature, so it is important that they be “allies with nature” so that minimum modifications to the landscape are needed. In this case, the environmental aspect is very important.
The conclusion of this discussion was that the notion of sustainable development in the framework of the Olympic Games is not a “trendy” phenomenon, but a real desire, whose impetus, that was started by the IOC in the 1990’s, never stops growing and improving progressively. And each entity (Candidate Cities, Organising Committees, Olympic Delivery Partners, National and International Federations, etc.) is a fully fledged participant in this.