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Winter sports taking high carbon sponsorship are ‘nailing the lid on own coffin’


By Ellen Ormesher | Senior Reporter

February 27, 2023 | 5 min read

Sectors such as fossil fuels, automotive and aviation are still sponsoring winter sports, despite their contribution to climate change impacting snow conditions, a new report points out.

Winter Olympics

Global heating is jeopardising the future of winter sports as snow conditions suffer / Adobe Stock

Badvertising, the campaign to stop adverts from major polluters fuelling the climate emergency, along with the think-tank New Weather Sweden, has published a report that identifies over 100 high-carbon sponsorship deals between skiing organizations, event organizers, teams and individual athletes.

Titled Snow Thieves, it aims to highlight the irony of winter sports accepting sponsorship from organizations that threaten their ability to run in the future.

According to the report, car manufacturers have been the most active with a total of 84 sponsoring deals, of which Audi has 55. Among the organizations sponsored by Audi are the global body representing snow sports and the International Ski Federation (FIS).

15 deals with fossil fuel companies, including Gazprom and Equinor, were identified alongside sponsorship deals from seven airlines, including British Airways and Lufthansa.

British Winter Olympian Lizzy Yarnold has commented: “At their best, winter sports are a celebration of people enjoying some of the most awesome landscapes on Earth. But the impact of climate pollution is now melting the snow and ice which these sports depend on. Having high carbon sponsors is like winter sport nailing the lid on its own coffin and it needs to stop.”

Fossil fuel sponsorship of sporting events on both the corporate and national level has come under increased scrutiny in the last few years, particularly in the instance of the recent Fifa World Cup in Qatar.

Saudi Arabia is set to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at a planned mountain resort within the £440bn Neom project and is believed to be bidding for the 2030 Winter Olympics.*

As global heating worsens, less snow is falling across fewer weeks, narrowing the window of winter sports seasons, with the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022 being the first to rely almost entirely on artificial snow.

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Anna Jonsson, co-director of New Weather Sweden, added: “The activities of high-carbon sponsors of winter sports are destroying the very conditions those sports need to survive. As the impacts of climate change become impossible to ignore, winter sports must end its relationship with polluting companies that use sponsorship to improve their corporate image, while their business activities undermine the very future of winter sports.”

*The Drum requested comment from the International Olympics Committee but had not received a response at the time of publication.

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