The Olympics are one of the most wasteful and irresponsible events any country can actively sign up for. Billions of dollars are spent on infrastructure that never pays for itself, often left to rot for generations. The lives of citizens are affected, and even displaced in service of the games. The proposed economic gains and benefit to a host country are never fully realized.
In reality, the only people getting rich off the games are developers who win contracts to build facilities, and the IOC itself. None of this is a surprise to anyone who’s dug into the wastefulness of the games, but the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are taking this to unprecedented levels.
The biggest source of waste is the host location. The majority of events will be held in the mountainous region roughly 100 miles northwest of Beijing. The issue is that these areas get no snow, at all. Zhangjiakou, for instance, where skiing and snowboarding events will be held is extremely arid, seeing on average less than 4 inches of precipitation a year. This has meant that in order to accommodate the games snow needs to be artificially created, using billions of gallons of water pulled from regional reservoirs, then trucked up to 50 miles to the foot of these mountains, before then being pumped to the top so there can be snow.
To make matters worse: Organizers couldn’t even just put snow on the mountain. The ground is so dry that powder would not stick, so the soil had to be soaked ahead of time and allowed to freeze. Every step of this requires an immense amount of energy and water waste.
The Chinese government and the IOC claim the energy and water uses are all renewable, and the games are carbon neutral. In fact, there’s a whole page on Olympics.com dedicated to espousing how green the games are — but experts are highly doubtful of the accuracy of these claims. The majority of venues were constructed using energy off the Beijing power grid, which is almost entirely coal powered, which can’t be mitigated by the solar and wind power being used during the games. The amount of renewable energy installed is purported to also have been…