Winter Olympic Action
Guard Fox Watch: 2002 Salt Lake City, USA
Environmental Recommendations Go Unheeded by Olympics Organizers

Bioregional Olympics:

Environmental Recommendations Go Unheeded by Olympics Organizers

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) is “greenwashing” the 2002 Winter Olympics. Even though assigned the task of providing the first environmentally sound Winter Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), SLOC makes claims that it refuses to substantiate and fails to take the necessary steps that can insure a satisfactory level of compliance.

The IOC adopted a set of environmental goals that were only optional and went mostly unheeded at the time of the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. They are now mandatory and were agreed upon by SLOC organizers. (See Document 1.) In addition to protection of the environment and education concerning environmental responsibilities, they include highlighting the importance of sustainable development, environmental impact assessments and pilot projects that apply environmentally friendly technology.

The Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) of SLOC stated goals that require substantiation. (See Document 2.) In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, 04/04/2000, SLOC director of environmental programs Diane L. Conrad stated, “We’re planning to improve environmental conditions, not just keep them the same.”

Guard Fox Watch, a USA-Japan citizen’s group begun before the Nagano Olympics, understood the seriousness of the problem and designated areas for obtaining baselines for measuring environmental impacts. (See Document 3) They include water pollution, energy use, waste management, and other appropriate subjects. Without this information, SLOC is unable to substantiate their claims to reduce impacts or “improve environmental conditions.” Measurements must begin in January or February of 2001 to provide a meaningful annual comparison for the start of the Games a year later, in 2002.

EAC refused to undertake the essential fact-finding activities recommended by Guard Fox Watch that would have enabled monitoring environmental impacts. Although EAC’s authority and staffing are necessary to establish the authenticity of data collected, it avoided responsibility for backing up its claims and instead indicated that some other group undertake this effort. (See Document 4.)

Guard Fox Watch recognized that there was also a problem of guiding activities and practices in preparing for the Games to reduce environmental impacts and to provide a model for future Winter Olympics. Toward those ends it prepared a set of guidelines and submitted it for EAC adoption. (See Document 5.) The guidelines address native species habitat and other natural features, transportation, food, sewage, and other areas of environmental concern.

EAC again dodged the spirit and intent of the IOC’s new environmental standards by failing to undertake any new actions based on Guard Fox Watch’s recommendations. (See Document 6.)

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