Should Chicago win the bid to host the 2016 Olympic games, the most notable winners won’t be the champions in the newly built facilities, it will be the legacy of sustainability driving the bid that marks the biggest win.  The blue green games, as the organizers are calling them, have a plan in place that drives a sustainable agenda farther than any games ever and an agenda directly takes on the disposable culture that permeates athletics.  Skeptical?  I was too until traveling to Chicago last week as a delegate to a summit on sustainability.  Chicago is making promises to the sustainable world.

“A simple promise is what we’re all looking for.” Described summit panelist Brandi Chastain, perhaps best known for her winning penalty kick and subsequent shirt removing celebration in the 1999 World Cup Soccer final against China.  In Chicago, she presented a discussion on engaging athletes and outlined principals dear to the Olympic ethic and central to the 350 movement.  “We are inspired by athletes.  We’re driven to do something and we step up and make a change.”  Chastain was in Chicago as a representative of Greenlaces, a partner organization of 350 and brainchild of 350athlete Natalie Spilger who moderated the athlete engagement panel.

“We know that we’re role models.  But we need to start advocating our values as much as our sponsors.” Spilger explained in her introduction.  She was in good company.  Dave Durante, a gold medalist and captain of the Olympic gymnastic team over the last eight years described starting a “green team” at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.  Kashi Leuchs, a fellow Olympian from New Zealand presented a picture of the work he’s done in his homeland with cyclists.  “The greatest part of 350 is that it encourages people to do what they can within the movement.  There’s a freedom and creativity that is unified by the common goal and the day of action.” (October 24th) Spilger, Chastain and Durante were joined by Will Steger, arctic explorer and friend to 350, who in a posh dinner presentation to USOC officials, IOC representatives, fellow athletes, sponsors and organizers of the bid repeated again and again the 350 agenda with slides showing the effects of climate change on the arctic.  “We are in a precarious place.” Explained Steger.

He’s right and not just from a climate perspective.  The 2016 summit was well attended with significant environmental and political leaders.  Delegates were treated to a breakfast with Tony Blair but conspicuously absent from the schedule was the previously scheduled Van Jones, who has been embroiled in controversy after resigning from an Obama office position.  This seemed especially tragic given the professed apolitical nature of the games.  The Olympics are to bring folks together regardless of their background & belief and a sustainable games bodes well for the 350 mission.

Physics doesn’t care about politics or economics.  In the name of getting the word out and pushing towards a sustainable future, physics may care about who wins the bid for the 2016 games when it is announced in Denmark. Copenhagen is looming large for many folks.  When the 2016 games hosts are announced in two weeks, it will be from the same country that plays hosts itself to the climate conference in December.  While the 350 crowd, holds the December meeting in highest regard, we hope there is plenty of good news for all coming out of Copenhagen in the coming months.  

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