Rising sea levels, extreme temperatures and soaring humidity could make it impossible for athletes to compete in many major cities around the world, study warns.
Rising temperatures will radically limit the number of cities able to host the summer Olympics by 2084, according to a study by the University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley), published last week in The Lancet.
Just eight Northern Hemisphere cities outside of Europe will have a cool and stable enough climate to host the games in 70 years time, with just three cities in North America – San Francisco, Calgary and Vancouver – deemed suitable for hosting the Games in 2084.
The study focused on the Northern Hemisphere, which is home to nearly 90 per cent of the world’s population, partly in order for there to be a consistent definition of “summer” as the period between July and August – when the Olympics are traditionally scheduled.
The researchers measured the suitability of future Olympics sites using climate change projections and a “wetbulb” globe temperature measurement, which combines humidity, heat radiation, temperature and wind. Only cities with at least 600,000 people resident were considered – the minimum size for cities to host the games. Meanwhile, cities located more than a mile above sea level were excluded, as altitude can make it difficult for athletes to compete.
The final results of the study have not yet been released, but the preliminary research reveals huge swathes of cities in contention to become Olympic hosts today would be ruled out in the coming decades for safety reasons.
By 2085, Istanbul, Madrid, Rome, Paris and Budapest – cities that have bid to host the 2020 or 2024 games – would be unsuitable to host, the report said, while the site of the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo, was also deemed to be out of the running.
By the 22nd century, if the researchers’ predictions prove accurate, only Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh and Glasgow would be suitable for hosting the Games in the Northern Hemisphere.
The news follows a similar study, also released last week, which warned Olympic athletes would struggle to beat world records in the future as soaring temperatures caused by climate change damage elite performance.
“Climate change is going to force us to change our behavior from the way things have always been done,” Smith said. “This includes sending your kids outside to play soccer or going out for a jog. It is a substantially changing world.”
The Olympic-themed studies join a growing body of work demonstrating how if climate scientists projections for the century prove accurate a wide array of climate impacts will result in enormous disruption to the global economy.
Source: Climate Change