The interpretation of environmental sustainability (ES) by the IOC/Olympic Games 1994-2008
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The purpose of this qualitative multi-case study was to examine the interpretation of environmental sustainability (ES) within the Olympic 11 Movement. Two research questions guided the inquiry - first, how has the concept of ES been defined by the International Olympic Committee (lOC), and second, how has the concept of ES been defined and enacted by the Organizing Committees ofthe Olympic Games (OCOGs)? During the past two decades, the International Olympic Committee (lOC) established several policies and programs related to ES. Its actions reflect a broader trend of environmentalism within economic and social spheres around the world (Milton-Smith, 2002). Despite the numerous initiatives, the Olympic Games continue to cause significant environmental damage. Frey, et al. (2007) argued that the Olympic Movement contradicts the fundamental premises of ES because the Games are hosted in a two week time period, are situated in a confined area, and accumulate operating and infrastructure costs in the billions of dollars. Further, Etzion (2007) stated "there is positive and significant correlation between firm siz~ and environmental performance" (p. 642) and in the context of the Olympics the sizeimpact relation is striking. Since 1972, the year the UN launched its international environmental awareness efforts, the Summer Olympics grew to 201 nations (39% increase), 10,500 athletes (32% increase), 28 sports (30% increase), and 302 events (43% increase) (Johnson, 2004; Girginov & Parry, 2005; Upegui, 2008). The proliferation of Games activities counters the ES principles that exist within many of the IOC declarations, policies and programs.