In 2019, the Games Organising Committee published a plan for overseeing emissions made up of just under 20 measures aimed at achieving that goal.
Olympic sites are supplied with electricity from wind farms, solar panels and hydropower stations in the Zhangjiakou city district, about 200 km from Beijing. Transmission of electricity to the sports sites is by way of a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line brought into service to rule out any outages over long-distance transmission. Over the entire period of the Winter Games and Paralympic Games, a total of 400 million kilowatt hours (KWh) of power will be supplied from renewable sources — a saving of 128,000 tonnes of coal and 320,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Clean transport will also contribute to the minimising of emissions — covering 85.6 % of the vehicles to be used during the Games, said Zhao Tongan, the Organising Committee’s Deputy director of Transport.
A total of 370 electric vehicles will be used during the Games as well as 816 using hydrogen fuel cells. They will result in a reduction of 11,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to a year’s worth of carbon capture with the help of 30,000 sq. km of forest.
One set of measures applies directly to buildings at event venues. Eight sites used for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing have been re-equipped for use during the Winter Games to avoid waste associated with the dismantling of old sites and construction of new ones. These include the Beijing national swimming complex or the Water Cube, rebuilt into an ice cube, where curlers will compete.
And at four sites where ice is to be made, carbon dioxide is to be used as a cooling agent—a significant contribution to minimising emissions.
The trend towards reducing the environmental impact was established during preparations for the Sumer Games in Tokyo in 2020 – held with a year’s delay owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The medals awarded at those Games were made from precious metals extracted from used mobile telephones, while the podiums for the medallists were made from household plastic and the beds in the Olympic village from recycled cardboard. Transport for the athletes and officials at the Games was carried out with the help of the universal e-Palette electric cars manufactured by Toyota. The Olympic Village was supplied by electricity produced from hydrogen.
But what was missing from both the Beijing and Tokyo Games was the foreign fans and visitors – kept away from the COVID pandemic.