Many commentators have lauded the Rio 2016 organizers for taking time out of the Opening Ceremony to raise awareness about climate change. The organizers’ timing couldn’t have been better. At the rate the climate is changing many cities will simply be too hot to host the Summer Olympics in the coming decades, say researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of Auckland in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet.
Using climate projections and International Olympic Committee (IOC) guidelines, the researchers estimate that by 2085, only 33 cities in the Northern hemisphere will have the appropriate climate to host the Summer Olympic Games. Of these cities, 25 are in Europe and 8 are in Asia and North America. Cities considered too risky to hold the games include 2020 host Tokyo and 2024 candidates Budapest, Paris, Rome, and Los Angeles. The cities that are deemed safe bets, such as St. Petersburg (Russia) and Ulaanbaatar, seem like more viable choices for the Winter Games.
The researchers say that the point of their report isn’t to call attention to the plight of the IOC in the coming decades but to depict the impact of climate change using the Olympics venues as a timely case study. Life as we know it will be quite different if warming trends continue; where the Olympics can be held is but one high-profile example.
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