If during this year’s Tokyo Olympics you see athletes making a circular symbol with their hands, it will mean more than just that they are feeling okay. Due to our new initiative Oly Earth+ it also means that they are supporting climate action and projects to leave a positive ecological legacy.
I hope that over the coming summer and beyond, we can get Olympians involved in hands on environmental projects… and using their platforms to communicate how we can all move forward.
OLY Earth+ grew out of the work of Champions for Earth, a Rapid Transition Alliance member, which is committed to unlocking the power of athletes as ambassadors for the planet and advocates for sustainability. In 2020 they wrote a letter to the UK Government encouraging a green recovery to the pandemic, which was signed by over 300 GB Olympians and Paralympians. Since then we have been developing OLY Earth+, a project focussed on creating a positive environmental legacy for Team GB’s participation in the Tokyo Games.
I developed Oly Earth+ as a way of starting to create a green legacy for participation in the Olympic Games. In sport we think about the creation of athletic and sporting legacies all the time, but an environmental legacy is just as (if not more) important. Sustainability and the planet are also things that athletes care increasingly about, so we created the oly_earth symbol, representing the Earth, as a way for them to communicate that care. You can see them doing so on our Instagram account @oly_earth.
I hope that over the coming summer and beyond, we can get Olympians involved in hands on environmental projects, learning more about the issues at play, and using their platforms to communicate how they feel and the ways we can all move forward.
Melissa Wilson is an elite rower, joint founder of Champions for Earth, and the instigator of the OLY Earth+ initiative.