The Beijing Games, which start on February 4, will be the first Winter Olympics to be held with virtually 100% artificial snow.
Climate change threatens Winter Olympics and future of snow sports, making conditions much more dangerous for athletes and participants, experts warn in a report released a week before the start of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing .
The Beijing Games, which begin on February 4, will be the first Winter Olympics to be held with virtually 100% artificial snow, deploying more than 100 snow generators and 300 snowmobiles to cover the ski slopes.
"This is not only costly in energy and water, often using chemicals to slow down melting, but it also provides a surface that many competitors say is unpredictable and potentially dangerous," said a report by Sport Ecology Group researchers at Loughborough University in England and the Protect Our Winters environmental team.
In naturally arid climates, the two cities co-hosting the event, Beijing and Zhangjiakou, may use about 49 million gallons of chemically treated water, frozen by snow machines, according to the research.
Although China has repeatedly claimed that it uses only natural rainfall and recycled water to produce snow, there have been concerns that high water use would put additional pressure on the region's already scarce resources.
Natural snow is declining in some areas and the availability of water for snow production is declining as a result of climate change, endangering the global snow sports industry.
"Navigating erratic snow seasons and rapidly melting low-end resorts is now the norm for many competitors," the study said, adding that "the risk is clear: anthropogenic heating threatens the long-term future of winter sports." It also reduces the number of climate-friendly accommodation venues for the Winter Olympics. "
Of the 21 venues used for the first Winter Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix, France, researchers estimate that by 2050 only 10 will have the "climate suitability" and natural snowfall levels to host an event.
Chamonix is now rated as "high risk" along with venues in Norway, France and Austria, while Vancouver, Sochi and Squash Valley in the United States are considered "unreliable" locations.