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Carbon Emissions during the Olympics: How Much?

The Olympics is one of the most highly anticipated events in the world, with athletes from all over the globe coming together to compete. However, the event also has a significant impact on the environment, with concerns raised over the amount of carbon emissions generated during the games. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at how much carbon emissions are generated during the Olympics and what can be done to reduce them.


The Olympic Games are a showcase of athleticism, skill, and sportsmanship. However, they are also a major contributor to global carbon emissions. The Games require a significant amount of resources, including energy, water, and materials, all of which generate carbon emissions. Additionally, the influx of athletes, spectators, and media personnel can put a strain on local infrastructure, further exacerbating the carbon footprint of the event.

Olympics opening ceremony Industrial Revolution scene
London 2012 Industrial Revolution Olympics opening ceremony scene

The Carbon Footprint of the Olympics

The carbon footprint of the Olympics is significant. According to a study by the International Olympic Committee, the London 2012 Olympics generated around 3.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). This is equivalent to the annual emissions of around 680,000 UK households. The majority of these emissions (around 70%) were generated by the construction and operation of venues and infrastructure, with the remaining emissions coming from transport and accommodation.

Reducing Carbon Emissions during the Olympics

Reducing carbon emissions during the Olympics is a complex challenge, but there are several steps that can be taken to mitigate the event’s impact on the environment. One of the most significant ways to reduce carbon emissions is through the use of renewable energy sources. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, for example, were powered by 100% renewable energy, including solar and wind power. Additionally, the use of public transport and the promotion of sustainable travel can help reduce the carbon footprint of the event.

The Importance of Sustainable Infrastructure

The infrastructure used during the Olympics is a significant contributor to carbon emissions. To reduce the event’s carbon footprint, it is essential to use sustainable materials and construction methods. Additionally, the design of venues and infrastructure should prioritize energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources. This can help reduce the emissions generated during the construction and operation of the event.

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London 2012 Olympics Aquatics Centre

The Role of Athletes and Spectators

Athletes and spectators also play a role in reducing the carbon footprint of the Olympics. Athletes can take steps to reduce their own carbon footprint, such as using sustainable transport and accommodation options. Spectators can also make a difference by using public transport and choosing sustainable travel options.


The Olympics is a significant contributor to global carbon emissions, generating millions of tonnes of CO2e. However, steps can be taken to reduce the event’s impact on the environment. By using renewable energy sources, promoting sustainable travel, and prioritizing sustainable infrastructure, the carbon footprint of the Olympics can be reduced. Additionally, athletes and spectators can make a difference by taking steps to reduce their own carbon footprint.

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