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On the way to Paris 2024. Can we be a high level athlete and green?

The challenge of an athlete is also to take care of his planet (Augusto Bizzi)

I got back on the plane last week, after a year without international competition. So obviously my carbon footprint took a hit.

With competitions for a weekend on the other side of the world, the question of travel is at the heart of the problem to combine high-level sport and ecology. Above all, in normal times, the number of matches does not stop increasing and the movements of supporters also swell the bill.

Especially since some sports colleagues are already suffering from this environmental emergency. For winter sports, there is often a lack of snow. For water sports, awareness is daily because on the water, waste piles up. More recently at the Australian Open tennis tournament, with the air pollution, it was getting difficult to play.

In the daily actions, the high level athlete can do better. Everywhere, in any bleacher, any training room, plastic bottles, barely opened, forgotten then abandoned, accumulate.

In the consumption of sportswear, there may be change. Do we really need a new endowment every fourth morning?

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In our relationship with water, mentalities can change. According to a study, an athlete consumes on average 50 liters of water more per day than a sedentary one. It’s a small gesture, but staying in the shower for less time can also count.

At the level of federations and clubs, we hear more and more about the circular economy. The equipment is better rationalized because everyone is less hesitant to give a second life to the equipment.

Nice initiatives appear. At some tournaments, local, organic, more balanced and zero waste food is starting to show up. In another dimension, Juventus football club Turin has pledged to plant 200 trees with every goal scored.

With a more punitive spirit, the UCI (international cycling union) has decided to change these rules and to withdraw points in the world ranking or to give time penalties for professional cyclists who throw their waste in nature.

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The Paris 2024 Games have a crucial role. These Games can be an accelerator in this desire to combine sport and ecology. The sober concept of the event, based on 95% of existing or temporary infrastructures and the development of low-carbon solutions for all activities are a figurehead in sports events.

Their ambition is to be the first major sporting event to offset more CO2 emissions than it emits. In this sense, starting this year, Paris 2024 is supporting numerous projects committed to having a positive impact on the climate.

Obviously, sport and ecology can go hand in hand very well. Not all plogging enthusiasts will be able to say otherwise. These joggers run and pick up trash at the same time.

More and more labels and associations are promoting good practices. We can cite match for green, fair play for planet or the ecolosport information site which lists many ideas for being sporty and ecological. The Oxy platform represents the first collaborative digital tool for measuring environmental and societal commitment in sport. The WWF association and the Ministry of Sports have also created the charter of 15 eco-responsible commitments of sports event organizers. Eco games, the first sporting event dedicated to the environment and sustainable development, also prove that sport and respect for the environment go hand in hand.

Athletes also have their say and can be real relays in this awareness. Handball player Nikola Karabatic asked for the creation of a charter where, when traveling, the train would be compulsory as soon as possible. As for Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, he sold his private jet to buy an electric car. Proof that everyone, on their own scale, can make an effort.

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