- The NGO WWF warned in 2021 of the direct consequences of global warming for sports practices if the temperature increases by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius.
- The consequences are already apparent for some sports, such as kayaking. French, European and vice-world champion in extreme rowing, Marilyn Devilles, is witnessing these changes and is doing everything, on her own scale, to reduce her carbon footprint.
- Besides the individual commitments of the athletes, eco-game designer Didier Lenav discusses the rapid adaptation of exercise, notably through adjusting the calendar and canceling events.
“The French can lose up to two months of sporting activity a year in a world of +4°C,” The NGO alerted the WWF two years ago. In a report, the federation specified that “in addition to the activities themselves, the locations and equipment for sports exercises are also threatened.” No need to wait until the end of the century to see the accuracy of these predictions.
last March, A national kayak competition had to be moved from Cher to Auvergne due to drought. A situation that has been repeated in recent years and will only get worse over time. In twenty-four years of practice, Marilyn DeVelesseveral times champion of France, European and world vice champion in extreme rowing, witnessed the immediate consequences of Global Warming in rivers. “Dobbs wave, which worked at least 10 times when I was young, now works once or twice at most,” she explains. Either the water is not enough and the flow is not enough, or there is so much that it is dangerous to sail. »
Marilyn DeVeles, “Climate Refugee for Sport”
The same note in the Alps, where, ten years ago, it was possible to train from April to the end of August, explains the athlete. today with melting glaciersThe water levels are very high until June, then the rivers run dry.
Sensitive to environmental protection, dilemma imposed on it. “As an athlete, you want to perform,” she explains. Our goals may seem unfeasible from a societal and environmental point of view, but we aim for the title of World Champion and for that, we have to train. I can’t stop kayaking but I can try to limit the consequences of my practice on the rivers. All athletes must make sure to protect the natural environment that they love and that allow them to get the performance they have. »
Then she decided to share on her own scale. To raise awareness of these issues, she said Making a documentary. Then it made choices to reduce its carbon footprint, to the point of becoming a “climate refugee for sport,” she says. With his companion, also a champion rower, they moved to Norway to take advantage of better conditions to train for as long as possible in the year, thus limiting their travels by having access to a “natural pool coming down from their home”. They also prioritized competitions.
“Sport, as we know it, is no longer viable”
Adds Marilyn DeVeles: “It’s really a shame to have to go somewhere else. But it’s the only solution we’ve come up with so far. Sport as we know it doesn’t work anymore. To be able to compete at a high level in a world like this, it’s not appropriate.” To be truly resilient or responsible for the environment is still difficult, but you have to think about it and it can be done. »
Didier Lenav, environmental game designer This is confirmed by the former French coach, who specializes in triathlon. “Is it consistent to produce millions of cubic meters of artificial snow for the sole purpose of maintaining a skating competition at the usual times? Or to deplete the water resources of a golf course lawn or a football field? What is the point of organizing competitions on the other side of the world, moving hundreds of athletes, When conditions are not right? Sport is both victim and culprit* of climate change.” PlusIndividual commitment of the athleteThe entire world of sport must and can adapt to the challenges of global warming.
A complete “re-alignment” of exercise should be encouraged
According to the specialist, the solution lies in a complete “reorganization” of the way you exercise. “We have to think rationally with fewer events, both in space and time, but also taking into account the problems of transporting athletes. We could, for example, think of an international calendar so that athletes follow the stages of the World Cup without having to go home. Today, from It is necessary to be effective in dealing with the conditions that have developed. We do not have time anymore. »
Because according to him, this environment only reacts “when you’re up against the wall.” “When conditions for practices deteriorate, we compensate by going elsewhere or by shifting supports with snow, an artificial wave or covered spaces. However, history has already shown us that sports are capable of reinventing themselves. He thinks of disciplines that have changed their rules in order to participate In the Olympic Games, like rugby sevens or modern pentathlon.
Thus, Didier Lenav believes that national and international federations can take up the whole issue: “They must make the necessary decisions on calendars and practice sites and adequately adjust their regulations. Without this attitude, he suggests, the government ‘decides’ to preserve our tomorrow”. The Ministry of Sports announced the right to implement “A plan for adapting sports practices to climate change”, as of October 2023.
* The Sport Planet movement in Meves has been committed for three years to reflecting on the positive impacts of organizing sporting events. Thus, the Ekiden Race in Paris no longer delivers the goodies, has eliminated plastic bottles and continues to reduce the waste produced. The movement has recently promoted the use of waterslides for refueling during marathons and continues its commitment by bringing together environmentalists, event organizers and, in particular, federations.