Sydney Olympics and the Environment (SYDNEY Case)

        CASE NUMBER:        184
        CASE NAME:          Sydney Olympics and Environment
1.      The Issue
        On September 23, 1993, International Olympic Committee (IOC)
President, Juan Antonio Samaranch announced from Monte Carlo that
Sydney, Australia would be the host for the Olympic Games of the
year 2000.  Jubilant celebrations and a feeling of pride spread
throughout the country.  The road to success had been long and two
other bids (Brisbane - 1992 and Melbourne - 1996) had been lost
along the way.  Sydney's bid was unique from the others in that it
renewed the commitment to "greener and friendlier" Games.  In
addition to its "green" commitment, Sydney also had Beijing's human
rights abuses going for it.  Many IOC members were leery of
rewarding the Games to a country with such blatant abuses.
2.      Description
        Australia is one of the few countries lucky enough to host the
Olympic Games more than once.  The last time Australia hosted the
Games was in 1956 in Melbourne.  They later became known as the
"friendly Games."  Now it is Sydney's turn to host the Games and
it is aiming to continue the tradition set in Melbourne.  In
addition, the Sydney Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games
(OCOG) has expressed its commitment to continuing the "green"
tradition set at the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
        In the Scandinavian countries, "green issues are treated with
almost a religious fervor."  Hence, it was not surprising to the
Scandinavian countries when Norway announced its intentions to host
the first "green" Games in 1994.  Norway carried out its plan by
using more energy efficient means of building structures, recycling
the structures that were built, reducing the amount of end waste by
increasing recycling and conservation, restricting private car
traffic and beefing up public transportation, and tackling visual
pollution problems, to name just a few areas.
        Australia has always considered itself a country with its own
environmental conscience.  The bidders felt that this was an
integral part of Australia and should be included in its plans to
host the Games.  They also believed that a successful bid would be
one that included this growing global  concern.  In addition, the
Sydney OCOG emphasized the need of looking after the athletes.  In
past years, it has been difficult to hold world competitions in
Australia.  Not only is the continent far away and not always
easily accessible, but it also has strict quarantine rules for
animals, making equestrian competitions nearly impossible.  This
time, however, Sydney has developed ways to break down these
        Sydney's bid to host the Games was launched in 1991.  From the
start, the planners made the care of the athletes the top priority. 
The facilities available to the athletes were so ideal that they
"received the unqualified endorsement of each of the twenty-five
international federations representing all the sports of the summer
Olympics."  In addition to the facilities available, Sydney was
a city with natural beauty and boundless enthusiasm for sport.  "It
offered a safe setting, and a clean one environmentally.  In short,
it was a good-guy bid."  However, as history has demonstrated the
good-guy does not always win (e.g., Berlin was selected to host the
1936 Games in the midst of the Holocaust) and the contest between
Sydney and Beijing continued to the final round of voting.
        Sydney's bid emphasized its many strengths including the
compactness of the city, allowing for minimal travel between venues
for athletes and coaches; the state government's commitment to
sport, demonstrated by their construction of nearly $410 million
worth of sports facilities during the campaign to host the Games;
the fact that 80 percent of the facilities would be completed by
the time the IOC made its decision; the security and political
stability; and the support of the entire country.
        Beijing's appeal, on the other hand, was that awarding it the
Olympic Games may quicken "progress towards democratic values in
China."  In addition, others saw Beijing as a way to open up the
country's commercial markets.  In fact, Beijing's campaign file
emphasized its theme of, "A more open China awaits the 2000
        During the campaign to win the bid, the Sydney campaign team
          engaged in a frenetic travel schedule, wearing out
          passports as they chalked up hundreds of thousands of
          kilometres journeying to all parts of the globe in a
          mission to impress the virtues of the bid...of the
          IOC.  They dispensed handshakes, souvenirs and
          occasional kisses; hosted breakfasts, lunches and
          dinners; and managed to appear, singly or in groups,
          at just about every function that boasted the presence
          of any such member.

     In the three months before the vote, the Sydney campaign
team focused their travel on those places (Africa, Asia, and
Latin America) where the votes could change as the voting rounds
progressed. (All the bidding countries are voted on initially in
the first round with the losing countries eliminated from the
next round.  This process continues until there are only two
countries left.  This time there were four rounds of voting
until a winner was declared.)
     All of the hard work paid off, though, as IOC President Juan
Antonio Samaranch declared Sydney the winner on September 23, 1993. 
Sydney's win was not only a result of some IOC member's decision to
punish China for its human rights abuses but also as a result of
Australia's strong commitment to hold environmentally friendly
     The Olympic Park will be the center of the Games.  It is
located at Homebush Bay which is on the upper reaches of the
harbor.  It is also located just over eight miles from the central
business district.  It is home to the sport, hockey and softball
centers and construction has begun on aquatic facilities.  
     The Olympic Village will also be situated in the Olympic Park. 
Under the Sydney plan, athletes will not have to travel for more
than thirty minutes from the Olympic Park to a venue nor more than
forty-five minutes from training facilities.  The Village will be
a model of "environmental awareness in architectural design."  It
addresses the problems of global warming, ozone depletion,
biodiversity, air, soil and water pollution, and resource
          Solar power will be used for street lighting, water
          heating and air conditioning.  Bathing and kitchen
          water will be treated on-site for reuse on gardens and
          for washing vehicles, north-facing buildings will
          provide warmth in winter and cooling in summer, and
          there will be a ban on environmentally harmful gases
          in insulation, refrigeration and air-conditioning

     Greenpeace Australia, who played a large role in the
development of these plans, hopes that the International Olympic
Committee will apply the environmental criteria used by Sydney
for all future Olympic bids.
3.   Related Cases
          Key Words (1):  Tourism
                    (2):  Travel
4.   Draft Author:  Deborah Meisegeier
     In June, 1994, the International Olympic Committee signed
an agreement with the United Nations Environmental Program
(UNEP).  The agreement will affect both future Olympic Games and
other international sporting events.  Both signees have agreed
to take efforts to make future sports events environmentally
friendly.  The guidelines established cover the selection,
construction, and holding of sports events.  In addition, there
are guidelines for Olympic host cities and standards for
sponsors.  The IOC is slated to meet in Budapest in June, 1995
to further discuss ways to encourage sports' federations'
commitments to environmentally safe events.
5.   Discourse:  AGREEment and INPROGress
6.   Forum: IOC and MULTIlateral
     The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was founded in
1894 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin.  Coubertin believed that an
international sports festival would "contribute to friendship
and peace among the world's youth."  Coubertin was also a
proponent of a system where each country would have the
opportunity to host the Games.
     IOC members (the latest data available show that there were
91 members in 1994) are not supposed to be representatives of
their states to the Olympic body.  Instead they are considered
ambassadors of the Olympic body to their states.  Over the
years the IOC has gained acceptance and is currently the only
body which can officially recognize a country's Olympic
committee thereby granting it the power to assemble a national
team.  In addition, the IOC holds the power to choose the site
for each Olympic Game.   Throughout its lifetime the IOC has
been representative of the makeup of the countries participating
in the Games.  In 1936, three-fourths of the IOC members were
from Europe and North America.  Only one-fourth came from Latin
America, Asia, and Africa.  Up until decolonization, most of the
participating countries also came from Europe and North America.
     With decolonization, however, came the creation of more
countries which began to participate in the Games.  This change
is also reflected in the makeup of the IOC.  By 1987, Western
members accounted for only two fifths of the total while nearly
half were from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
7.   Number of Parties Affected:  141
     The latest data available indicate that 141 countries
participated in the 1988 Summer games in Los Angeles.  
8.   Legal Standing:  NGO
9.   Geography:
     The 2000 summer Olympic Games will be held in Sydney,
Australia from September 16 to October 1, 2000.  Sydney, located
in the state of New South Wales, is Australia's oldest and
largest city.  Its population is four million people and
includes about 140 different ethnic groups.  
     "Sydney is a cosmopolitan city, with a sophisticated
lifestyle that reflects Australia's dynamic economy and
culture."  The mixture of cultures and traditions has been a
major attraction for foreign visitors.  Two thirds of all
international visitors spend at least one night in Sydney.  The
Opera House and Harbor are also popular attractions.  During the
Games the climate is expected to range between 61o and 70o
     a.  Continental Domain:  AUSTRalia
     b.  Geographic Site:  SAUSTR
     c.  Geographic Impact:  AUSTRalia
10.  Sub-national Factors:  NEW SOUTH WALES
11.  Type of Habitat:  TEMPERATE
12.  Type of Measure:  NGO
13.  Direct vs. Indirect Impacts:  INDirect
14.  Relation of Measure to Impact
     a.  Directly Related:    YES TOURism
     b.  Indirectly Related:  NO
     c.  Not Related:         NO
     d.  Process:             Land Pollution [POLL]
15.  Product Type:  TOURISM
16.  Economic Data:
     Organizers have budgeted $2.3 billion to run the Games,
including $674 million on facilities and venues.  In addition,
the Federal and New South Wales governments have allocated $4.1
billion for transportation projects slated to be completed by
2000.  Tickets will be available for as little as $14.
     There have already been 100,000 volunteers who have signed
up to help work the games.  The 70,000 members of the Surf Life
Savings Association of Australia, a volunteer organization that
monitors the safety of Australia's beaches, has also agreed to
volunteer their time and help.  In addition, the Olympics are
anticipated to create more than 15,000 full and part-time jobs
over a fourteen year period.
     Organizers also expect that an additional 1.32 million
international visitors and 174.000 domestic visitors will travel
to Sydney between 1994 and 2004.  Industry Output (US $) is
estimated to earn more than $4 billion and is anticipated to
create more than 15,000 jobs.
17.  Degree of Competitive Impact:  LOW
     Sydney and Australia as a whole both expect to gain from
hosting the Olympics.  The Games will "raise Australia's profile
as a place to do business, including meeting and convention
travel."  In addition, the Games will have a "positive and
significant effect on the balance of trade" generating $4.8
billion to Australia's net export earnings over a fourteen year
     In an effort to control the cost of hotels and food,
arrangements have already been made to ensure visitors a cost-
effective stay.  "Hotel rates, including food, beverages and
laundry, will be based on the average published price two years
before the start of the Games."
     The Sydney Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (OCOG)
have also announced that they plan to pay the "round-trip
airfares for all accredited athletes and officials selected to
participate in the Games, as well as meet the expenses for board
and lodging in the Olympic Village."  In addition, the Sydney
(OCOG) will "arrange round-trip freight charges for all horses,
yachts, rowing shells, canoes and kayaks, to be used in Olympic
18.  Industry Sector:  Tourism (TOUR)
19.  Exporters and Importers:  MANY and AUSTRALIA
     Environmental issues in Australia are of great concern to
citizens of all economic and political groups.  It should come
as no surprise that the country sought to win an Olympic bid on
the basis of this concern and due to the agreement signed
between the IOC and the UNEP.  Environmental issues may finally
be gaining the attention they deserve.
     During its proposal creation and campaign, the government
sought to incorporate the input of Greenpeace.  It was
Greenpeace who came up with the creation of a green Olympic
Village.  Greenpeace's plan is "far-reaching and extend[s]
beyond the immediate Olympic environment."
     It now appears that the green theme of the Olympics may be
threatened.  The five groups of architects who won a design
contest and then joined forces to provide a plan to assist
Sydney in winning the bid, are no longer being consulted in the
planning of the Games.  The government is claiming that the
original five groups do not necessarily have to have any input
at this point.
     The five groups and Greenpeace are denouncing the actions
of the government claiming that the government only used the
"green" plan to win the bid.  Now that the bid has been
successfully won, they claim the government is more concerned
with a financially viable Games rather than a green Games.
     Now may be the time for all Australians to demonstrate
their commitment to environmental issues and demand that the
government carry through its promises and plans of hosting a
green Games.
20.  Environmental Problem Type:  Pollution Land (POLL)
     The main environmental problem expected is all the waste
generated from hundreds of thousands of visitors, in addition to
the athletes and their countries.  There will also be
significant waste as a result of the construction which must
take place.
     The second environmental problem will be the air pollution
released by cars, buses, trains, and planes.  The transportation
systems used will be used more frequently and for longer hours
releasing pollution into the atmosphere.
21.  Species Information
22.  Impact and Effect:  LOW and SCALE
23.  Urgency and Lifetime: LOW and 100 of years
24.  Substitute:  Eco-toruism [ECOTR]
     It has been suggested that the Games be staged in one
location rather than having them held in different cities. 
Another suggestion has been to re-use the buildings built for
one city, in another city.  While these are good suggestions
environmentally, they are not likely to happen.  There is too
much national pride and honor connected with hosting the Games
and too much revenue can be generated, both prior to and after
the Games.
25.  Culture:  YES
     Unique to the Sydney Olympics is the cultural program which
will express "humanity's quest for peace and harmony."  The
cultural Olympiad will begin in 1997 with the "Festival of the
Dreaming."  The festival is a celebration of the world's
indigenous cultures, focusing on the Aborigines.
     The following year, the theme will be "A Sea Change."  The
celebration will focus on the "contribution that exploration and
immigration have made to the development of civilisation." 
In 1999, the scheduled program is called "Reaching the World." 
Australia will present its best and newest "performing arts,
interpreting the spirit of Australia and its evolving
multicultural society and giving emphasis to the work of
Australia's Aboriginal artists and performers."
     The cultural Olympiad will culminate in the festival
entitled "Harbour of Life."  This festival will begin two weeks
before the opening of the Games and end a week after the Games. 

          It will give expression to humanity's hopes for a
          better world and for lasting peace, security and
          friendship.  The variety of the world's cultures,
          its many faiths and social traditions will be shown,
          not as cause for conflict but as the essential
          condition of a civilising and unifying growth and
          harmony.  The festival will conclude with a Hymn to
          the Future of the World, sung by a children's choir
          drawn from every nation under the Olympic Flag.
26.  Human Rights:  NO
27.  Trans-Boundary Issue:  NO
28.  Relevant Literature
---. Sydney Olympics 2000: Facts at a Glance. promotional from
Australian Embassy.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Overseas Information
Branch. Australia's Green Olympics. Fact sheet, December 1993.

Gordon, Harry. Australia and the Olympic Games. Queensland:
University of Queensland Press, 1994.

Irwin Jr.,Wallace. The Politics of International Sport. New
York: Foreign Policy Association, 1988.

Kanin, David B. "The Olympic System: Transnational Sport
Organization and the Politics of Cultural Exchange," in Lowe,
Benjamin; Kanin, David B.; and Strenk, Andrew (eds.). Sport
and International Relations. Champaign: Stipes Publishing
Company, 1978.

Mitchell, Alex. "Monaco: A Lean, Mean, Green Machine -
Successful Olympic Bid." The Sunday Age, September 26, 1993.

Moore, Matthew. "Greens Denounce 'Shambles' of Olympic Village
Planning." The Sydney Morning Herald, October 8, 1994, p.9.

North, Sam. "New Call for Green Olympics Planners." The Sydney
Morning Herald, March 4, 1994, p. 15.

Papadakis, Elim; Politics and the Environment: The Australian
Experience.  St. Leonards, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin Pty.
Ltd., 1993.

Segrave, Jeffrey O. and Chu, Donald, (eds). The Olympic Games
Transition. Champaign: Human Kinetics Books, 1988.

Sutham, Kate. "Serious Business - The Environment." The Sydney
Morning Herald, January 8, 1994, p. 3.

Verrender, Ian and Moore, Matthew. "Talks to Thrash Out
Greenness of Olympics." The Sydney Morning Herald, October 17,
1994, p. 7.

Walkley, Pam. "Greenpeace Consultant's Olympic Village a
Australian Financial Review, July 8, 1992.

Wallechinsky, David. The Complete Book of the Olympics. New
Penguin Group, 1988.

Wilson, Paul. "How China Lost the Long March." The Observer.
September 26, 1993.

Back to previous menu
Go to SUPER Page December 21, 1995