IOC Considers Ending Winter Olympics After 2034 Edition Amid Climate Change Fears

Reporting from Venice, Italy – International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board members at a meeting last week discussed the possibility of ending the Winter Olympics, possibly making the 2034 edition of the Games its last.

Beijing 2022 Proposed National Alpine Ski Centre, Yanqing Cluster, (IOC Photo, January 2015)
Beijing 2022 Proposed National Alpine Ski Centre, Yanqing Cluster, (IOC Photo, January 2015)

An anonymous source told that IOC Executives believe hosting the Olympics in most capable cities in the future may no longer be feasible due to the lack of snow caused by warm temperatures and climate change. There are already fears that ski events to be held in Zhangjiakou and Yanqing as part of the Beijing 2022 Games may rely entirely on artificial snow.

Compounded with the lack of interested bidders for recent Olympic Games, including only two remaining in the 2026 race, some IOC members believe the Winter Games’ 100-year run is coming to an end.

“Global warming and climate change is a real fear for the IOC, and who knows what our climate will look like in 2034 and beyond,” the source said.

“Since we begin to prepare the Games starting seven years in advance, we don’t want cities investing time, money and resources in an event that may never come to fruition if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

“That’s why we need to plan an end to the Games before the inevitable occurs.”

The recent revelations came just as an IOC bid evaluation team was about to touch down in Venice Monday to begin a five day tour of Italy and the Milan-Cortina 2026 Winter Games bid.  The multifaceted team led by the IOC’s Octavian Morariu will travel to Cortina later Monday and tour mountain venues before arriving in Milan for meetings and venue inspections Wednesday.  The visit will conclude Saturday.

The team also travelled to the Sweden to evaluate the Stockholm-Åre 2026 bid earlier this month, where plenty of snow graced the ski venues.

But experts warn that the abundant snowfalls may diminish in the near future due to climate change.

Last week the IOC announced the formation of a new five-member working group that will look into the Olympic bid process and how it could change in the future.  The group, led by Australian John Coates and comprised of representatives from five continents, has been given a broad mandate to explore whatever they think is prudent.

“The time continues to change and we want to be on top of these developments and this is why we discuss further steps to make the candidature process even more flexible and more dialogue-oriented,” IOC President Thomas Bach said last Wednesday.

The group is primarily tasked with finding ways to attract appropriate bid cities to the table when it comes time to site the Games, but it is thought that it might also investigate whether future Winter Games are viable at all.

IOC President Thomas Bach speaks at an Executive Board Meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland March 27, 2019 (IOC Photo)
IOC President Thomas Bach speaks at an Executive Board Meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland March 27, 2019 (IOC Photo)

After the 2026 Games are awarded to Italy or Sweden during an election on June 24, the 2030 Games are scheduled to be sited in 2023 and the 2034 edition in 2027.  Those could be the final Olympic Winter Games bids.

For 2030, hosting interest has come from Sapporo, Lillehammer and Barcelona – and Salt Lake City is poised for any future edition according to the United States Olympic Committee.

Bach said Wednesday that he hopes the working group will be able to report as early as the IOC Session in June, but doesn’t want to rush the important process.

[Editor’s Note: Happy April Fools Day!  This article is fictional in our April Fools Day style.  There is still plenty of snow to go around and we hope the Winter Games continue for generations to come.] will be reporting from Italy from April 1 to April 7, bringing you on-site coverage of the important Evaluation Commission visit.  Follow us on Twitter @GamesBids or on Facebook to keep up with this event.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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