The findings of a survey the IBU conducted in late 2021 reveal that biathletes have great concern about the future of their sport. Nearly 90% of IBU athletes feel that their sport has already been impacted by the climate crisis and almost 60% of them have personally felt the impact of climate change on their everyday lives. 75% of the athletes surveyed indicated that they are either very concerned or extremely concerned about climate change, with a further 19% saying they were moderately concerned.
The specific challenges that the athletes are concerned about include climate change that has led to global warming, CO2 emissions especially from travel activities, plastic waste, excessive use of resources, and pollution, just to mention a few. As snow sports athletes, they have personally felt the impact of the climate crisis through the lack of snow in their home regions, increasing inability to train at familiar training locations and shorter winters in general as well as extreme and unpredictable weather conditions for training and racing.
The IBU athletes are not only concerned about climate change and sustainability matters but also feel a responsibility to act. 81% have already made changes to their lifestyle and 85% of them are trying to influence others to change their habits. The athlete themselves are especially working on their own consumption, trying to avoid waste and to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible. Indeed, 86% of them recycle always or most of the time. Almost 60% have also participated in environmental advocacy activities, such as tree-planting and local clean-up campaigns.
The athletes provided several suggestions for the sustainability work of the IBU and IBU event organisers. On the top of their list were reducing the amount and impact of travel and transport to, from and at events; reducing waste in particular the use of plastic; continuing the work to ban fluorine waxes and other chemical use in the sport; and creating resource efficiencies and synergies in event organisation across the board. The athletes also encouraged the IBU to use the sport as a platform to reach out to all stakeholders and the public to increase awareness and entice others to also play their part in addressing the global challenges.
The IBU’s survey was designed to find out how the elite athletes feel about sustainability and climate matters and what role they and their sport could play in addressing these issues. The survey was conducted from late November until the end of December 2021 among its athletes competing on the World Cup, IBU Cup and Junior Cup levels. 55% of the 112 responding athletes compete in the World Cup. The responding athletes hail from 23 different countries. 52% of the respondents were female, 48% male.