As we all know, the Olympics started last week and everyone around the world is thrilled to watch them. Among the not-so-thrilled include environmentalists and the thousands of plant and animal species that live in Sochi National Park. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, promised the International Olympic Committee that these games would be “zero waste” and be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Although reporters have not been able to get a very firm comment on the environmental impact of these games, many people believe that Putin and the Sochi officials have not kept their word.
In the seven years since the Olympic bid, 225 miles of road, 22 tunnels through mountains, and several apartment buildings, hotels, and sidewalks have been build in Sochi. Being in a remote national park, every venue had to be build starting from the infrastructure up, starting with a lot of digging and pouring concrete into many wetland-like territories.
The Environmental Watch of the North Caucasus found illegal dumping, construction that blocked migration of animals, and limited access to clean drinking water due to the creation of venues for the 2014 Olympic games. Sochi organizers claimed that 2,000 endangered plants have been uprooted and replanted and that five saplings have been planted for every tree that was knocked down due to construction. Officials will not allow reporters or environmentalists to view waste areas or many construction zones, though.
The Olympics may be a fun and exciting time for viewers and participants that come from all over the globe, but the environmental impact of these games may not be worth the thrill.