Whether you prefer taking to the athletics track, the ski slopes or the water, sport has always represented an opportunity to step away from the goings on of day-to-day life. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you come from, or what you believe in: everyone can unite through love of sport and competition.
Environmentalist Lizzie Carr recognises this and was awed by the scene upon which she set her eyes at the Youth Olympic Village at Lausanne 2020. What the Briton saw when she looked at the Vortex was a display of over 70 different flags, each representing a different country competing at the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
Carr admits to feeling emotional at the sight in an Instagram post, saying: “As hundreds of the world’s best competitive athletes hung out and lived together under one roof in the Olympic Village, the political tension and civil unrest round the world continued.
“It struck me just how much we need sport. It’s a leveller. It doesn’t discriminate. Everyone has put in the work and everyone respects and abides by the same set of rules. It’s all equal and despite the opposing philosophies of some nations, the display of unity from athletes – particularly at the YOG – sends such an important message to the world.”
Carr is the founder of Plastic Patrol, an initiative set up in 2016 designed to combat the growing amount of plastic being disposed of irresponsibly worldwide, and has travelled across the globe spreading the message of sustainability, with her organisation already having helped to curb plastic waste in over 60 countries. Lausanne 2020 has also played its part in raising awareness about plastic waste, holding a number of “plogging” events in the build-up to the Winter YOG.
Thanks to her travels, Carr knows more than most about the political tensions and civil unrest which face a large number of people globally. In 2018, she navigated her way down the Hudson River in the USA on a paddleboard for over 250km to highlight how polluted the world’s waterways are with plastic litter and debris. Now, her visit to Lausanne 2020 has highlighted the increasing awareness and commitment of all to hosting cleaner, more sustainable events and ensuring that the planet is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
The environmental activist shared how Lausanne 2020 has inspired her, too, thanks to the spirit of the young athletes competing: “Under the fragility of global discord there is friendly rivalry, peace and international cooperation – and this makes me hopeful for the future.”