International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has called the effect of climate change on winter sports “alarming” and fears that more than 50% of Europe’s ski areas may no longer exist in their current form by 2050.
Bach told dpa at a recent event in Stuttgart that this will not only impact the choice of Winter Olympics hosts, but also the future of winter sports.
“A commission of experts is examining future guests and the influence of climate change on winter sports. Some data is interesting, or rather alarming,” said Bach.
“Global warming is 25 to 50% stronger in mountain regions than average. This has an impact on winter sports. If we take the period up to 2050, then between 50 and 60% of former winter sports areas in Europe, which were considered snow-safe and suitable for the Olympic Games, will no longer exist.
“Affected winter sports areas will no longer invest in winter sports in the long term, but in summer sports such as hiking or BMX cycling. The number of venues able to host World Championships or Winter Games will be significantly reduced.”
The IOC decided earlier this month to postpone the host election of the 2030 Winter Games by one year to 2024 to give more time to look into climate change. Interested parties to the Games are former hosts Sapporo, Japan, Salt Lake City, Utah and Vancouver, Canada.
Planned IOC recommendations could include that future hosts must demonstrate adequate temperatures for the Winter Olympics in the traditional February timeslot over a 10-year period.
“Further assessments are needed, but it could be that the winter sports season is shortened to three or three and a half months in the future,” Bach said.
“This then raises the question of how much time is left for a World Cup, World Championship, Olympic or Paralympic Games,” Bach said.
Bach said “these factors should reasonably be included” in the decision-making process of the 2030 host “because they can impact the format and schedule” of the Games.