Can international sports be responsible event creators when they ignore their environmental legacy?

As any modern sporting season closes, its physical and visible presence disappears. However, the environmental legacy may still remain, unseen and often ignored.

No international sport feels the pressure of its environmental burden more than the Formula 1 World Championship, for example. For the 2020 season alone, 800 tons of total freight has been transported by air, seat and road to support their events (Grand Prix) at 14 different circuits globally. The sport is more than racing - it is a well-oiled but costly events machine.

Formula 1 subsequently has a responsibility towards its environmental legacy, but how the sport is behaving cannot be considered fully responsible. The creation of a new racetrack in Camboatá Forest (Brazil) is being planned – a decision which would not only demolish 180,000 trees, but could potentially be illegal. 2006 laws protecting Brazil’s Atlantic Forest would be broken should the racetrack be built, a fact which the sport has not acknowledged.

Despite this, Formula 1 continues to insist on its events being increasingly sustainable and does so with a self-congratulatory nature. A year after announcing its intention to have a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030, the sport took to its media platforms to boast its progress. This included receiving the highest environmental accreditation possible from the FIA, the sports governing body:

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‘Formula 1 is demonstrating best practice and commitment to seek continual improvement through the implementation of an environmental management system’ - Formula 1

The environmental legacy of Formula 1 hangs in the balance, due to its self-contradictory approach to sustainability – and only law might be able to stop this balance leaning negatively.

How far can sporting organisations be trusted in their commitment to environmental legacy? Please share your thoughts below.

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Very interesting topic. When never know if they are actually following their commitments…

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Thank you - it seems that we only find out if international sports follow their commitment far too late, when the environmental damage has been done!

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It is very important and interesting topic ! How do you think, what can be the reason of ignoring the environmental impacts by the sport events organisers ?

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Thank you! I agree that it is important to study. I think the main reason for sports like Formula 1 ignoring the environmental impacts is because their priority is fixed on financial gain. The reason why the race track in Brazil would be built is because it would profit both the parties in Brazil and Formula 1. Unfortunately, it’s another example of how in the events industry, money normally wins over environmental need - feel free to let me know if you disagree with that opinion.