Using the Olympics as a platform for sustainability?
I can get on board with that. Now we all know that the Japanese are entrepreneurial, innovative, technologically-savvy bunch. If China put so much work into projecting a positive image for their country in the 2008 Olympics, imagine how many potential great technologies could be developed and highlighted if Japan had the same motivation and world stage! Plus China and Japan have a history of rivalry, then add into that the Olympic tradition of trying to top the previous host site – you never know how Japan might push the limits of going green.
Tokyo’s 2016 Olympic bid has a site, complete with its candidate plan. It’s pretty telling that the cover page for their ‘Overall Concept of the Games’ section has a picture of a tree side by side with the title. Looking briefly on what they outline in terms of strategies, I (being a less-than-expert on sustainability) see promising features regarding urban planning, and resource allocation. Their ‘Environment and Meteorology’ also contains charts and data to back up their specific plans, goals and commitments.
To be fair, Chicago also has an interesting section on what they call their ‘Blue-Green Games’ that focuses on “water positive”, “climate cool”, “habitat friendly”, “resource saving” and “legacy sustainable”. I’m not even sure if the last one is grammatically correct, but their goals seem rather more grandiose and vague than Tokyo’s. For example, they promise an international program to provide clean water at sporting locales in developing countries, 100% renewable-powered games, lots of greenery to balance out the metropolitan buildings, etc. Sounds good, but my first reaction is to question the degree to which they plan to carry out these objectives (read: how are you going to be 100% powered by renewable energy? Ban gasoline-powered cars for two weeks?)… Maybe I need to look at their bid plan (which admittedly also has charts and tables) more in detail. But Tokyo certainly had super-efficient toilets before the rest of the world.
Now of course, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid have similar green intentions. A cursory look through their bid plans reveal that they all really want an eco-friendly Games. However, the Games have a long controversial history of eating up money- so will all these governments maintain their position when the ‘green’ of sustainability turns into the ‘green’ of dollar bills? The question for me is: who has the most incentive, the best capability, the most innovative and efficient technologies? In other words, who is actually committed to doing all that they say?
Plus Tokyo’s artist renderings just look so cool!
UPDATE: Rio has won the bid! On the downside, this post is kind of moot.