Green Olympic Games

By Cynthia Kirk

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

The Olympics in Sydney, Australia, is being called the first environmentally-friendly Games in history. Olympic organizers and environmental groups are trying to protect the environment during the summer games. Organizers say they hope these environmental efforts will be an example for other large sporting events.

Seven years ago, Sydney competed with other cities to hold the Olympics. Sydney won the Games with the support of environmental organizations like Greenpeace. City officials promised to meet the organization's environmental goals.

Olympic organizers have reached many of their goals. They are saving energy by increasing the use of solar power. They built structures with materials that can be treated and used again. Half of all water used during the Games comes from rainwater. And people are using buses and modern trains instead of cars to get to the Games. Even the historic Olympic Torch has become cleaner.

Almost three-thousand people are involved in removing waste products twenty-four hours a day from the area of the Games. A large amount of the waste material is being reused. Paper containers for holding food are made of a cornstarch material that breaks down in the environment. This waste will be taken to a giant worm farm to be eaten by worms.

Environmental activists are praising the use of energy from the sun for houses in the Olympic Village. Athletes are staying in them during the Games.

Some people have criticized the city. They say the government failed to meet its promise to clean up an Olympic center at an area called Homebush Bay. The waterway was once used by manufacturing companies to dump chemical pollution. Greenpeace says it still contains five-hundred-thousand tons of dioxin chemicals.

Environmentalists are also concerned about the use of gases in the cooling systems at the Olympic centers. They say these so-called greenhouse gases damage ozone in the atmosphere which can increase temperatures on Earth.

Organizers say most of Olympic environmental failures resulted from the lack of technology. But they say they have made progress. They hope to repeat their environmental efforts at future Olympic Games.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk.

Voice of America Special English