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Sustainability And Legacy Commission











Sustainable development is at the heart of the Olympic Games.

Environmental protection and the Olympic Games

Organising "Green Games". From the beginning of a city's desire to stage an Olympic Games, through to the long-term effects of those Games, environmental protection and, more importantly, sustainability, are prime elements of Games planning and operations.
The Olympic Movement, since the early 1990's, has progressively taken the environment and sustainability into account throughout the lifecycle of an Olympic Games project, and recognised its importance: the "Green Games" concept is increasingly a reality.

Reducing the environmental impact

Olympic Games are above all about sport and the athletes, but they can bring several important environmental outcomes if they are planned, managed and conducted in a way which minimises the adverse environmental impacts and effects.

Sustainable environmental legacies

The opportunity of the Games can also be used to provide sustainable environmental legacies, such as rehabilitated and revitalized sites, increased environmental awareness, and improved environmental policies and practices. They can further encourage and facilitate strong environmental actions, technology and product development in a city, country and beyond, through the educational value of good example.

From the candidature phase

It is important to note that these positive legacies can occur whether or not a bid is successful. For example, a bid may include the rehabilitation and regeneration of a degraded area of a city for an Olympic Games venue and public open space which goes ahead during the bid and is completed even if the city is not awarded the Games.
These positive outcomes and legacies are being achieved throughout the processes leading to the Games, and through IOC requirements and policies, and actions within the IOC and the Candidate Citiesganising Committees. 

Applicant cities phase

In 1999, the IOC adopted a two-phase procedure for awarding an Olympic Games to a city. The first phase is the "Candidature Acceptance Procedure", during which "Applicant cities" are required to answer a questionnaire in writing.

In the "Environmental conditions and impact" section of this questionnaire, applicant cities are asked to:

  • Provide an assessment of current environmental conditions in the city
  • Provide details of ongoing environmental projects and their organisation
  • Provide an assessment of the environmental impact of staging the Games in that city/region
  • Provide information in regard to any environmental impact studies carried out on proposed venues and if legislation requires such studies.
  • Questions on meteorology are also raised.

    The answers to these questions, and all the others in the uestionnaire, are assessed by the IOC Candidature Acceptance Working Group in its report to the IOC Executive Board. Accordingly, environmental conditions, actions and impact are a consideration in the decision as to which cities progress to being "Candidate Cties". 

    Candidate Cties phase
    During this phase, those cities selected as Candidate Cities submit a "Candidature File" (including guarantees and undertakings) to the IOC. This file is developed within a strict framework provided by the IOC, which includes, as one of the themes, "Environment and Meteorology".

    A Candidate City has to provide details of its environmental and meteorological features, and the

    IOC seeks to understand the environmental approach in regard to geographical features; public authorities; environmental management systems; venue construction and development projects. Details requested include air quality; protected areas; public authorities' roles and responsibilities; Environmental Impact Assessments; construction work; work with NGOs; integration of environmental approaches into contracts with suppliers and sponsors; special features and actions; and Games-time rainfall, wind, temperatures and humidity levels.

    The Candidature File is a central element in the development of a "Green Games", as all commitments regarding actions, programmes and policies are binding, and should all be carried out and implemented by the Organising Committee. 

    Games planning and commitments

    After a city is awarded an Olympic Games, the Organising Committee integrates environmental issues and elements into its planning, logistics and operations in accordance with the commitments made in the Candidature Files and elsewhere during the Candidature phase. It must also work with government authorities and other stakeholders to implement the city-wide and nation-wide policy and programme developments and actions outlined in the bid and needed for a City to fulfill its Host City contract obligations.
    These environmental actions are developed and implemented in consultation with the IOC Coordination Commission and IOC experts, who provide guidance and assistance based on expertise and knowledge from past Games.

    Monitoring of commitments and actions

    As well as external scrutiny by NGOs and media, the IOC and the Organising Committee monitor progress and implementation of the proposed environmental and sustainability actions and policies to ensure maximum fulfillment of commitments and maximum use of the opportunity to improve environmental conditions and practices.

    Vancouver 2010

    The Vancouver Organising Committee (VANOC) is the first Organising Committee to create a Sustainability Department. For VANOC, sustainability means managing the social, economic and environmental impacts and opportunities of the Vancouver Olympic Games to create lasting benefits both locally and globally. To achieve this, VANOC has established a set of six corporate-wide sustainability performance objectives:

  • Accountability
  • Environmental Stewardship and Impact Reduction
  • Social Inclusion and Responsibility
  • Aboriginal Participation and Collaboration
  • Economic Benefits
  • Sport for Sustainable Living

    London 2012

    The London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG), building upon the commitments set out in its Candidature File, has produced the London 2012 Sustainability Plan. The Plan is a framework for how LOCOG and its partners will address sustainability, and reflects the Organising Committee’s ambition to deliver truly sustainable Olympic Games. The Plan is structured according to five priority themes:

  • Climate change
  • Waste
  • Biodiversity
  • Inclusion
  • Healthy living

    Consult the UNEP Report from Beijing