Desert games: On the politics of climate and sports

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It’s been widely reported in journals such as Nature, and elsewhere, that “most cities might be too hot to host the summer Olympic Games after 2085 because of climate change”. Only 25 cities in western Europe – and just eight in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere – are deemed “suitable” to host the 2088 Games.

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The detailed study, which integrates climate modelling with biometeorological factors affecting human comfort, is most impressive; however, it overlooks the political and financial dimension to the host city selection process: Host cities are rarely ever selected for their climate suitability. Continue reading

An Exception in an Ugly World

Re “Meditations on the beautiful game” by Enrique Krauze (Opinion, June 12):

The late Christopher Hitchens once wrote: “Whether it’s the exacerbation of national rivalries … or the exhibition of the most depressing traits of the human personality (guns in locker rooms, golf clubs wielded in the home, dogs maimed and tortured at stars’ homes to make them fight, dope and steroids everywhere), you need only look to the wide world of sports for the most rank and vivid examples.”

There is more than a seed of truth to this. Soccer, however, and in particular the World Cup, is the exception. The “beautiful game,” like a work of art, contains an ineffable aesthetic and intrinsic quality for which the enjoyment of it requires no further explanation.

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Note: This appeared as a letter to the editor in The New York Times.

Two solitudes redux

Re: Language and the Games

Letter writer Jacqueline Barker proudly proclaims that “the fact that announcements at the opening ceremonies were given first in French, then English, made a huge positive impact on me and sent a strong message that Canada values its francophone residents.” I’m sorry to have to add even more rain to the already washed-out parade, but this should not be a source of national pride: The Olympic Charter states that the official languages of the International Olympic Committee are French and English; therefore, the announcements at the opening ceremonies for all Olympic Games, whether in Montreal, Beijing or Rio de Janeiro, must be given first in French, then English, and then, if different, the language of the host nation.

Note: This appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Globe & Mail.