“Everyone has a part to play” - YOG athletes join fight against climate change
As climate change flag bearer Greta Thunberg prepares to visit the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this month, the environment has become a hot topic among athletes competing in the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
The subject is understandably on the minds of many, with banners displaying environmentally aware messages visible on the slopes at the giant slalom competition in Les Diablerets.
And when it comes to saving the planet, and the kind of environments suited to hosting Winter YOG events, a large number of athletes are taking steps towards long-term, positive change.
Among them is 17-year-old Norwegian speed skater Julie Berg Sjoebrend.
“We have a lot of competitions in the north [of Norway] and I try to take the train as much as possible,” she said. “As a team we started doing that last year too, for the last race of the season.
“It was a long trip but it was socially fun, we watched films together. Greta Thunberg has been quite an inspirational figure.”
Sjoebrend feels that athletes competing at Lausanne 2020 should do all they can to spread the word that change is important when it comes to saving the planet.
“I feel responsible,” Sjoebrend said. “A lot of young kids are looking up to us, which is weird because I don’t feel like I’m that old.
“I think as sports people we have to set a good image for others.”
Elsewhere, pair skating athlete Brandon Toste(CAN) says encouraging efforts have been made at venues across the Winter YOG.
“I like how these Games have been really focused on being climate-friendly,” he said. “Taking the public transport is a great way to cut our emissions.
“It’s thinking for the future, which is really important. Everyone has a part to play in the fight to solve climate change.
“It’s definitely the biggest issue that’s facing humans. We really need to work on cutting our emissions and making greener choices for the planet.”
For British speed skater Theo Collins (skating on Lake St. Moritz in main image above), the steps towards becoming even greener have started closer to home.
“I try to be sustainable,” he said. “I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t eat meat and I try to reduce my waste.
“Being considerate about what you buy, reducing single-use plastics and using reusable cups helps.
“These days climate change is something our generation is talking about more and more.”