Lars Becker

European Championships 2022: Sustainability Instead of Budget Holes

This Is What the Sporting Events of the Future Will Look Like

The European Championships Munich 2022 are to show the world what a sports event of the future could look like. 50 years after the Summer Olympics at the same location, 4,400 athletes are to celebrate a lasting festival with hopefully many spectators.

The European Championships 2022 will rely on existing infrastructure instead of new buildings.
The European Championships 2022 will rely on existing infrastructure instead of new buildings.

Whether it's the Bundesliga football matches or the Nordic World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf in 2021 - major sporting events in Germany are currently being staged without spectators. The vision that this could be different at next year's European Championships in Munich after the hoped-for end of the Corona pandemic is all the more beautiful.

Improve Acceptance for Major Sporting Events

"We want to be the light at the end of the tunnel," says Florian Weber, Creative Director & Head of Event Presentation at the European Championships Munich 2022. This statement is doubly true. Firstly, because there is justified hope that thousands of (inoculated) spectators will then once again be able to cheer on the 4400 athletes at their European Championships in athletics, beach volleyball, canoe racing, climbing, cycling (including road, track and BMX freestyle), rowing, table tennis, triathlon and gymnastics. "After all, these are very difficult times for events at the moment. Maybe we'll be the first after this," Weber believes.

But the big event should also be light at the end of the tunnel for all those who organise big sporting events. The acceptance of such events is currently low all over the world. This is shown by various referendums in cities applying for Olympic Games. For example, in Munich - in 2013, around 52 percent of citizens there rejected a bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Florian Weber presented the concept of the European Championships Munich 2022 at ISPO Munich Online.
Florian Weber presented the concept of the European Championships Munich 2022 at ISPO Munich Online.

Benefits Instead of Fat Budget Holes

The big event will take place in Beijing instead, where the population has no say in such decisions. Munich is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Summer Olympics on a smaller scale with a multi-European championship instead. Weber: "We want to show Germany and the world that there is a sustainable way to organize such events. A way that brings benefits and doesn't tear a big hole in the budget."

This is to be achieved with the help of the 1972 Olympic Park, which is actually a very good example of the sustainable use of the infrastructure created by a major event. The Olympic Stadium and the large Olympic Hall are used regularly - outside of the Corona pandemic - open air or indoor for large events. The Olympic swimming hall is just as popular with normal visitors as it is with clubs or top athletes. And the Olympic Park itself, as a green lung in the heart of Munich, is also heavily frequented by athletes and recreation seekers.

Munich 2022: Setting Standards for Sustainability

More than five decades after it was built, this is exactly where another major event will take place that could set standards as it did back in 1972. At least some of the competition venues, with sustainable catering, are to become examples of how such major events can be organized with "zero waste". Instead of cars as a means of transport, public transport should be used as much as possible. This is also because the hotels for participants and visitors at this event of short distances will be close to the competition venues around the Olympic Park, in the centre of Munich and at the regatta centre in Oberschleißheim. The organizers have defined a total of six sustainability goals.

These include supporting local value creation and getting the entire region on board. "For example, we are planning a large school program with a competition," Weber reports. Schools and clubs should also benefit directly, for example by receiving sports equipment used at the event for subsequent use. Also very important, according to Weber: "We don't just want to inspire sports fans, but also do something for non-sports fans. We want to create memories, surprising and unexpected experiences."

New Ideas for Sports Fans and Non-Sports Fans Alike

The accompanying festival "The Roof" in the Olympic Park is intended to attract people with a colourful mix of culture, art, music and food. There are also new ideas in the sporting area: in special "Meet and Greet" zones fans will have the opportunity to get really close to the best athletes in Europe. "There are mixed zones for TV, mixed zones for journalists, but so far no mixed zones for spectators. Until now," says Weber. The creative director is also currently thinking with athletes about how to make the award ceremonies as innovative as possible.

Whether all the grandiose ideas can actually be implemented, of course, no one knows at this point. "Of course, we are also making plans with other scenarios," says Weber. But at the same time, he firmly believes that Munich 2022 will make history. As a model of what a sustainable event of the future could look like.

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Lars Becker
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