written by Sarah Cripps
In many ways Sochi 2014 delivered all it promised: the Russians topped the medal table and showcased to the world their dazzling modern empire. However, is it too soon to question what happened to the Russian’s vow to host the “most sustainable Games ever”?
With a mountain of negative environmental reports stacking up, Russia has clearly broken its promise of a zero-waste Olympics. On one hand, it is hardly surprising considering the 88 countries in need of accommodation. However, with a budget of over $51 billion, a record-breaking figure, surely anything is possible.
London managed. The temporary venues and recyclable materials used to stage the 2012 Olympics allowed London to meet all their environmental sustainability goals.
Even Beijing did – criticisms related to extravagance and social concerns aside. They planted trees, closed coal mines and initiated driving bans to offset over 1 million tons of carbon dioxide. As a result the 2008 Games became a model for net-zero pollution.
But it looks like Sochi didn’t even try! To start with, many of the venues were built in the Sochi national park within the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve buffer zone – a World Heritage Site. Compared to Beijing, Russia’s promise to plant 1.5 million new trees falls short when taking a look at the widespread ecological damage the construction has caused.
Russia failed to meet any of their environmental goals and it seems as though ‘Sustainable Sochi’ was just an empty pledge in the race to take the Games home to Russia. When the glare from the glossy new venues fades, the real environmental disaster of the 2014 Games will be revealed.
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