31 May

Sustainable Sporting Events: Forging a Greener Legacy

In the high-stakes world of sports, where triumphs are measured in victories and records, a new metric is gaining momentum: sustainability.

Sporting events, once notorious for their carbon footprints and environmental impact, have undergone a transformative shift. Today, they are not just about the game, they’re about leaving a lasting legacy of stewardship and responsibility and are now leading the charge towards a greener future. From grassroots tournaments to global spectacles, sustainability has become a key focus, and the results are nothing short of game changing.

Symbolically or not, we too as Legacy International wanted to hoop on the train towards a greener and more sustainable future, leaving a legacy that will last.

…But let’s go step by step and start from the beginning. Why are sustainable sporting events so important? And, more importantly, what is a sustainable sporting event, anyway? Here comes (almost) everything you wanted to know about Sustainable Sports and more….

The Rise of Sustainable Sports: Key Strategies for Sustainability

The shift towards sustainability in sports isn’t merely a trend. The growing awareness of climate change and environmental degradation has compelled sports organizations worldwide to reassess their operations.

As climate change tightens its grip on the planet, the sporting world has stepped up to the plate, recognizing its role as both a contributor to and a solution for environmental degradation. This realization has sparked a global movement, with leagues, teams, and organizers reimagining the playbook to prioritize the planet alongside the love of sports.

In short, nowadays, sustainability in sports encompasses a range of initiatives aimed at minimizing the environmental footprint of events while maximizing their positive social and economic impacts. These efforts require a concerted effort and can span to at least 4 main areas:

…And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the possibilities of sustainable practices in sport.

Sustainability in a nutshell: Can Sporting Events Really Score Big for the Planet?

But, in sports, as in life, theory sometimes lies far from the practice. You may read about how a perfect forehand needs to be executed, what is the ideal position to score a goal or get that orange ball through the hoop…but when you are on the field, practice and performance are all that matters.

Is it like this when it comes to sustainable sports events, too? Is everything we mentioned just a great theory or there are sports events that show that theory and practice sometimes can be best friends?

Well…good news! Let’s see some of the examples that show progress, importance and the power of sustainable practices in sport.

…Of course, we will mostly focus on tennis. But don’t worry, we’ll mention other sports events, too.

Legacy International: Match Point for Sustainability

Completely subjectively, we’ll start the tennis sustainability list with projects that made us – as Legacy International – part of the sustainable-tennis-events list.

Our tournaments might not be a Grand Slam (yet), but we try to treat players, fans, and our environment like it is. That is why we always try to organize actions and projects that support some of the sustainability pillars in our events.

READ MORE about our sustainability projects.

Hard, Clay, Grass: Sustainability at its finest at the Grand Slams

With Grand Slams everything is Grand, even their sustainability efforts. Here sustainability isn’t just a buzzword but a way of life. From zero-waste policies, water recycling and eco-friendly fashion to carbon-neutral operations, Grand Slams are aiming to serve the environmental ace.

Grand Slams, something like a big brother or sister, or even a pretty cool friend, are something you always want to look up to and try to mimic, get inspired or maybe even surpass. On the other hand, they have the highest responsibility, too. And Grand Slams and tennis are not lonely in this, it goes for any other large-scale sport events, as well.

Concrete Jungle, Green Dreams: The Olympics as a Beacon of Change

If there’s one event that encapsulates the power of sport to drive sustainability, it’s the Olympic Games. The modern Olympics, with its grandeur and global stage, has emerged as a trailblazer in green initiatives.

From London 2012 and Rio 2016, all the way to Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games there have been a lot of great examples of sustainability initiatives at the (most certainly) world’s most important sports event.

But we don’t have to go back years or decades to the past. We have the example at the “front door” right now, as Paris 2024 says its Summer Olympic Games will be the greenest in the event’s history, aiming to host the most sustainable Olympics ever. So, what is the master plan? Or, at least, some parts of it.

Well, for example, hosting the Olympics in the past has typically brought big spending on new venues. But 95% of Paris 2024 will be hosted in existing buildings or temporary infrastructure. Only one new competition venue, the Aquatics Centre in Saint-Denis, is being built and it will be solar-powered, built with natural bio-based building materials and is fitted out with recycled materials (for example, all seats are made from recycled local plastic waste).

The famous Athletes’ Village will also be sustainable. It will generate energy from sources like geothermal and solar power, and athletes will sleep on mattresses made from recycled fishing nets and bed bases from reinforced cardboard. For biodiversity, rooftops at the Village have been built with enclosures and openings to house insects and birds and almost 9,000 trees have been planted around the athletes’ village to attract different species.

In addition, the 2,800 Olympic apartments will be converted into homes after the games – providing workplaces for 6,000 people and apartments for an additional 6,000.

What is more, other sustainable features of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games include 1,000km of cycle lanes and 200,000 new trees in the streets. And let’s not forget that the famous Olympic medals will be made from recycled electronics. And the list of initiatives, plans and ideas goes on and on.

It seems that, besides amazing sports achievements, we will have something else to look at at look for at the Olympics. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this will indeed be the most sustainable Olympics ever!

Conclusion (At last): Playing for a Greener Tomorrow

If you managed to read all trough here…well done! We (tried) to cover a lot, but there is so much more to say (and do) when it comes to sustainability in the sporting world, about its present and even more the future.

But, as they say, first we must walk so we can be able to run and maybe even fly. And, as it seems, the sporting world is walking at a fast pace into the sustainability world.

As the world continues to confront many sustainability challenges the sports industry stands poised to lead by example, demonstrating that athleticism and environmental stewardship can go hand in hand towards a brighter, more sustainable future.

It is no longer an afterthought and a sideline issue but a fundamental aspect of event planning and management. From the towering stadiums of global championships to the humble fields of small tournaments, the sporting world is embracing its role as a catalyst for change. By championing sustainability, sports aren’t just playing for trophies; they’re playing for the future of the planet.

And as athletes, organizers, and fans come together in pursuit of a greener tomorrow, one thing becomes abundantly clear: when it comes to saving the planet, we’re all on the same team.

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