‘Green’ issues weigh increasingly on sports events

Updated 04 January 2013

‘Green’ issues weigh increasingly on sports events

The Dakar rally gets under way in South America this weekend, amid concern about the potential damage that the 8,400-kilometer (5,200-mile) trek through Peru and Chile could cause to the local environment.
Organizers the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) have already had to reject claims that the 459 cars, bikes, trucks and quad bikes taking part in this year’s edition will cause irreparable harm to ancient archaeological sites.
ASO, which also organizes cycling’s most prestigious and grueling race, the Tour de France, is becoming used to dealing with such questions, as sport in general is increasingly scrutinized about its “green” credentials.
The Dakar rally first revealed its carbon footprint in 2007, trumpeting the fact that the 43,000 tons of greenhouse gases it produced was nearly a quarter of that at the French Open tennis tournament (156,000 tons).
Motorsport and in particular Formula One — long demonized because of its reliance on the fossil fuels thought to contribute to global warming — has led the way in publicizing environmental attributes.
“We’ve got this image of waste but we don’t pollute any more than other events,” said Bernard Niclot, technical director at the International Automobile Federation (FIA) governing body.
“Motorsport has always contributed to the development of road cars. Even today, we still want it to help make cleaner, more fuel efficient cars and to respond to the challenges of diminishing oil supplies and protecting the environment.”
FIA president Jean Todt, who formerly led the Ferrari F1 team, has been at the forefront of attempts to use renewable energy sources and staging quieter, more fuel efficient races.
Next year will see the launch of Formula E, with single-seater electric cars racing at speeds of up to 180 kilometers an hour on city circuits such as Rome.
Fuel limits will also be introduced in 2014 in endurance racing, following on from existing restrictions on wind tunnel tests, plus the number of engines and gearboxes available for drivers.
The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) aims to reduce its overall carbon footprint by 15 percent in the coming years.
The use of artificial snow, tree felling and soil erosion in ski resorts or heavy water consumption on golf courses have long been targets for environmental campaigners.
But even apparently “green” sports cannot afford to rest on their laurels.
In 2009, there was outrage after images were shown of some 20 tons of rubbish left on Mont Ventoux after the advertising caravan on the Tour de France came through, distributing free gifts to the tens of thousands of fans parked by the road.
Some 50 tons of rubbish was produced during the 2011 New York Marathon while about 20,000 of the 47,000 participants came from abroad, most of them by high polluting air travel.
According to campaigners, serious thought has to be given to big sporting events, no matter how much organizers claim to be meeting environmental targets on use of sustainable materials or recycling.
“Tens of thousands of spectators pollute more at an autosports competitions than the racing cars,” said Edouard Donnelly, a sustainable development expert at Paris-based sports consultancy firm Keneo.
“There’s no difference between the Tour de France and a motorsport race.”
In France, an estimated 50 percent of 260,000 sports venues are said to be poorly insulated, over-using water and electricity or not readily accessible by public transport.
Yachtswoman Isabelle Autissier, who is also head of the French branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF,) said environmental damage was the paradox of the modern day sports industry.
“We’re building more and more big structures. We’re getting people to come from farther afield,” she said.
“By attracting more people we obviously generate more waste and damage because transporting sportsmen and women and spectators has more of an impact.”
French Green Party lawmaker Jean-Luc Bennahmias said any steps taken were currently no more than a smokescreen, highlighting world football governing body FIFA’s decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup.
The Gulf state is building 12 new air-conditioned stadia. Foreign fans will all travel by plane while the venues will become white elephants after the competition, he said.

What’s Trending Today’s: hot topics explained

Zuhoor Assiri gestures as she drives her car in Dhahran on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 59 min 44 sec ago

What’s Trending Today’s: hot topics explained

In the driver’s seat

Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. (Twitter photo)

“Al-Waleed bin Talal” was one of the top trending Google searches on Sunday, as he participated in the historic event of women driving in the Kingdom.  

He shot a video of himself sitting next to his daughter Reem who drove him around Riyadh with his granddaughters sitting in the backseat.

In the viral video, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal said: “Saudi Arabia has entered the 21st century.” 

Prince Al-Waleed is a Saudi businessman, investor, philanthropist, and a member of the Saudi royal family. Prince Al-Waleed is also the chairman of Board of Directors of Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), a Saudi conglomerate company, publicly listed on the Tadawul (Saudi Stock Exchange). 



The Arabic hashtag for Saudi women driving cars, and the English #SaudiWomenDriving were the top trending hashtags in the region. On June 24, history was made in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as women with valid driving licenses grabbed their car keys and enjoyed a drive on Kingdom’s roads marking the beginning of an era of prosperity. 

@geekyerxm said: “Seeing all the Saudi woman driving with the biggest smiles ever, is making me tear up GO GIRLSSS”

@ArshiyaShariff7 said: “So finally the wait is over”

@Aljehani_Maha said: “Today we are making history congratulations to all the women in our beloved country, I’m so happy and proud of each one of us. Let’s drive and be the change that we want to see in the world. #SaudiWomenDrive”

@ZainabDaham said: “24th of June 2018,the end of an era and the start of a new one for our Saudi sisters. A very memorable day and a true historic moment. #SaudiWomenDrive”

@LamaG6 said: “Congratulations to all the women in Saudi Arabia! Today marks an extraordinary leap of faith. Today we ARE the news. #SaudiWomenDrive”