Finding cities capable of hosting the Winter Olympic Games is becoming increasingly challenging as a result of climate change, according to International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach.
Bach said that while geographical obstacles limited the number of potential host cities anyway, the issue was being exacerbated by the changing weather and how it’s being received by potential decision-makers within cities.
“What we have now with climate change, in particular in Europe, is an even further reduced number of potential candidates,” he told delegates at the Smart Cities and Sport Summit in Lausanne. “People are saying it makes no sense any more to invest in winter sports.
“There’s no return on investment because in 10 years we will have no snow.”
A piece of research published this year by the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, painted a bleak picture for the future of the Winter Games, revealing more than half of the former host cities will be too warm by the end of the century to host the event.
If global warming continues at the current rate – past the 1.5°C needed to stabilise climate change – it’s likely that alpine ski resorts will lose up to 70% of their snow cover.
Europe will likely be the destination for the 2026 Games, with both Stockholm and an Italian bid involving Milan and Cortina D’Ampezzo through to the next stage of the bidding process. Calgary also made the cut, although it’s being widely reported that its bid may be close to being withdrawn.