CIPRA representatives:

Personal tools

  Search filter  

Olympic agenda 2020

Nov 30, 2016
Image caption:
© wwwupertal/, edited

The image of the Olympic Games has suffered in recent years: massive budget overruns, environmental degradation and social injustice have all led to worldwide criticism. As a reaction, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced radical new changes in its «Agenda 2020», but the reforms do not deliver what they promise.

Only two of the original nine candidates finally remained in the running to host the 2022 Winter Olympics: the dictatorships of Kazakhstan and China. In the Canton of Grisons/Graubünden, in Munich, Krakow, Barcelona, Stockholm and Oslo, local resistance or reasons of cost caused candidatures to be abandoned. The IOC reacted to this critical echo and announced radical reforms: the «Olympic Agenda 2020». The games were to become more transparent and sustainable and generate fewer costs. The result was forty recommendations, unanimously adopted by the IOC in Monaco on 8 and 9 December 2014.

Sustainability in all aspects

The word sustainability appears no fewer than ten times in Recommendations 4 and 5 of Agenda 2020. The hosts of the Olympic Games should prepare a sustainability strategy and implement measures to ensure sustainability. How these measures are supposed to look, which standards should be observed and what exactly such a strategy would contain all remain open questions. The recommendations are formulated in very general terms but are appealing enough to read: transparency should be increased, costs reduced and ethical conduct encouraged. This however all leaves considerable room for interpretation, while at that the same time failing to address basic amendments to IOC structures and rules or guarantee basic democratic values in the host countries.

IOC vote exposes «Agenda 2020»

One year after the adoption of the reform, the IOC decided (via secret ballot) that Peking would host the 2022 Winter Olympics. The region around Peking has some of the lowest precipitation levels in the world: in Yanqing, the venue for the Alpine disciplines, it practically never snows. This drawback will be overcome by covering the surfaces with artificial snow, which will exacerbate the existing regional water shortage. Only a fraction of the sports venues already exist: most will be built from scratch for the games. The costs will thus be high, the detrimental effects on nature enormous. Almaty, Kazakhstan’s candidate city, already possessed eight of 14 required sports facilities, which were also all located within a 30-kilometre radius. The most powerful argument in favour of Almaty was, however, snow. the older, previously used stadiums could not hope to compete against the prospect of brand-new Olympic constructions in Peking – hardly a serious nod towards sustainability.


Sources and further information (de) (de) (de)