Commonwealth Games: How Climate Change Is Changing Life Around the World

Alexander Stadium
The Alexander Stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies for the 72 teams that have gathered from around the world for Birmingham 2022
Hosts: Birmingham dates: July 28 to August 8
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV with additional streams on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport mobile app; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and Sports Extra; live text and clips online

Work on the Alexander Stadium redevelopment began in February 2020 – the wettest February on record in the UK.

The finishing touches were put to the midpoint of the Commonwealth Games in July 2022, just as temperature records were being broken around a scorched UK.

Climate change is here. But it is also everywhere else.

And some of the nations competing in Birmingham have felt the impact the most.

Three Commonwealth athletes tell BBC Sport about their fears and hopes for the future of sport, humanity and the planet.

Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya, Athletics)

Eliud Kipchoge

Kipchoge famously became the first man to complete the marathon distance in under two hours at a high-tech event in Vienna in 2019. He only switched to the road after a successful track career, including 5,000m silver in Delhi 2010. He launched the Eliud Kipchoge Foundation, which focuses on the environment and education to improve lives around the world.

“Where I live and train, high in the Kenyan countryside, almost 80% of the population is farmers.

“People know that the rains are not the same as they were five years ago and that climate change is real

“It also affects athletes. Climate change is continuing in some countries and it is not possible to run for two or three hours.

“It’s really sad as a marathon runner.

“Running in warmer environments is so hard. It’s scary how at the end of a session or race you feel all your energy is gone.

“We saw how the marathon at the 2019 World Cup in Doha had to start at midnight because otherwise it would be too hot.

“If you want to perform, if you really want to enjoy running, you have to have a clean environment with clean oxygen.

“So, it’s really important for me to stand up and talk loud for the environment.

“Social media channels can show people the effects more easily than before. You can tell a friend to tell a friend that this is our country, our continent, our habitat, our home. We have no other.”

Eroni Sau (Fiji, rugby sevens)

Eroni Sau

Sau was part of the Fiji rugby sevens team that won silver at the 2018 Gold Coast. He also played two seasons with Edinburgh before moving to current club Provence in the south of France.

“There’s a big problem, especially where I grew up on the islands. Especially there you see the changes caused by climate change every day. It’s happening right before our eyes.

“In my mother’s village there was a building that was a kitchen and bathroom block. When I was a child it was 10 meters away from the beach. But it is no longer there.

“All you can see of it are the foundations under the sea.

“I recently returned home after a four-year absence. There is a graveyard where we buried our grandparents and ancestors, but now people are talking about moving the bodies further inland or near the mountains because of rising sea levels.

“It really affects our lives, even sports.

“As kids we would love to play rugby on the beach. We always played on a strip of sand at the top of the beach, the sea on one side and the coconut trees on the other.

“Now that that strip of sand isn’t there at high tide, the water comes up along the coconut trees. There’s no beach, no place for us to play.

“However, it affects the whole world. In France, where I now play rugby, it feels hotter than at home. I got off the plane in Marseille and felt dizzy because it felt so much hotter. I find it really difficult in the south of France in the summer.”

Mubal Azzam (Maldives, swimmer)

Mubal Azzam

Azzam was one of the flag bearers of the Maldives at last summer’s Olympics in Tokyo. The 21-year-old competed in three individual events and two relays for his country in Birmingham 2022.

“Many islands in the Maldives have flooded houses and have problems with erosion.

“In the capital Male, where I have lived most of my life, we have artificial beaches for the public to use, but there has been a very big change in the construction of sand, with a lot of erosion in one area. topography has really changed.

“I see a growing environmental awareness among athletes of our generation. We have seen the consequences first hand.

“I used to train with my team in the ocean and it was often difficult to do that because the water was so polluted.

“We knew we had to get used to it because we couldn’t change it at the time. But it made me think about how we can help our country and people become more sustainable on the planet.

“I think the sports community can have a lot of power to change its mind because it brings people together.

“I’ve met a lot of like-minded people. I feel that sport has an impact, it can have a big impact in the world.”

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