Fewer event staff helps Tokyo Olympics curb CO2 emissions


Fewer event staff helps Tokyo Olympics curb CO2 emissions


Carbon dioxide emissions at the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo were much lower than estimated as fewer personnel attended the event due to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a new study. 

The research results suggest that reducing the number of event-related staffs attending the Olympics is an important method for reducing the carbon footprint of large sports events, said James Higham, professor from the Department of Tourism at the University of Otago

Olympics-related personnel refers to the International Olympic Committee, officials such as referees and judges, journalists, and marketing partners. 

The study did not take into account the significantly reduced number of spectators who would ordinarily visit Japan for the Olympic Games. The Olympic athletes and visitors who arrived in June were also excluded. To calculate the reduction in emissions caused by the recent Olympics, researchers first confirmed the number of people who visited Japan on temporary visitor visas in July 2021. 

The statistics show that 30,212 inbound personnel for the Olympics arrived in Japan in July, far fewer than the 141,000 initially predicted.

Research team then used a flight carbon calculator to calculate the flight distance and carbon emissions per passenger between the main and hub airports of each country and area and Narita International Airport. 

The final results were obtained by multiplying the number of inbound Olympic personnel by the carbon emissions from air travel per passenger for each country and area. 

The estimation shows that carbon emissions related to inbound Olympics-related personnel were 35,365 tonnes. If 141,000 inbound personnel had visited Japan as scheduled, their carbon footprint would have been 165,051 tonnes. The decrease in number of staffs has thus resulted in a reduction of 129,686 tonnes of emissions from international aviation travel.

Higham stated that he does not advocate for future events to be hosted in empty stadiums. Instead, he wished to convey a message that even minor adjustments can have a significant influence. According to him, several stadiums are already taking innovative measures in terms of sustainable construction, carbon offset agreements, and the food and beverages services. 

Future events should model their emissions and think creatively about how event design and delivery might help reduce event emissions, he added.

Related Topics
Disney VIP tour will emit 6.2 tonnes carbon for each traveler
Korea saw 3.5% increase in GHG emissions as economy rebound in 2021

More from Renewable Energy Certificate