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Olympians, Paralympians Want United Fight Against Climate Change

Austin Okon-Akpan  
Updated November 1, 2021
Picture Courtesy: International Olympic Committee

 

In an inspiring video produced with support from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), athletes who participated at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo are calling on world leaders to deliver on climate action.

The call becomes necessary as world governments, business, and civil society representatives meet at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this week in Glasgow, Great Britain.

Initiated by Hannah Mills, MBE, double Olympic champion in sailing and the most decorated female British sailor of all time, and British Olympic rower Melissa Wilson, the video features more than fifty Olympians and Paralympians from different parts of the world.

These include three-time Olympic medallist Pau Gasol (basketball, Spain), who is also a member of the IOC Athletes Commission; double Olympic champion and marathon world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge (athletics, Kenya); Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Tom Daley (diving, Great Britain); double Olympic champion Andy Murray (tennis, Great Britain); Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Emma Twigg (rowing, New Zealand); Tokyo 2020 Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft MBE (wheelchair racing, Great Britain); Tokyo 2020 Paralympian Koyo Iwabuchi (table tennis, Japan); Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Martine Grael (sailing, Brazil); and many others.

The athletes reflect on the challenges and obstacles they overcame as they chased excellence at Tokyo 2020, and called on the world’s leaders to do the same as they gather at the “Olympics of climate summits” to decide on the global response to the climate crisis.

“The Olympic dream is all about being the best you can – and that doesn’t just mean competing or winning medals; it means being a good global citizen. I feel that we have a responsibility to use our platforms to highlight the need for all of us to live and operate in a more responsible manner,” said Mills.

READ ALSO: COP26 Climate Summit Must Act To ‘Save Humanity’, Says UN Chief

In 2019, also supported by the IOC, Mills launched the Big Plastic Pledge, an athlete-driven movement to eliminate the use of single-use plastic within and beyond sport. She believes that if the entire sporting community changes their habits, and makes their voices heard, the ripple effect can create a global tidal wave of change.

“Our environmental movement is fortunate to have the support of the IOC,” says Mills.

“It is a clear demonstration of their commitment to building a better world through sport. However, sport is just one part of a much greater global picture. We are counting on world leaders to take accelerated climate action at COP26.”

“The IOC is delighted to support this initiative, and help Olympic athletes use their powerful voices to create a more sustainable future for everyone,” said IOC President, Thomas Bach.

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced, and the IOC is proud to be leading the Olympic Movement’s response to this crisis. Our recent commitment to reduce our carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 and our support for this initiative are part of this effort. Sport has the power to make the world a better place, and today we have an opportunity to use this power in the face of climate change.”

Sustainability is a key pillar of Olympic Agenda 2020+5, the strategic roadmap of the Olympic Movement.

The IOC is working to ensure that sustainability principles are embedded across its activities as an organisation, as the owner of the Olympic Games, and as the leader of the Olympic Movement. As part of this effort, the IOC works with athletes to leverage their inspirational power to promote sustainability through sport.