Commonwealth Games: How climate change is changing life around the world
|host: Birmingham date: July 28-August 8|
|Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV via BBC iPlayer, Red Button, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport mobile app; listen to BBC Radio 5 Live and Sports Extra; live texts and clips online|
Redevelopment of Alexander Stadium began in February 2020 – the wettest February on record in the UK.
The finishing touches on the Commonwealth Games core programme will be completed in July 2022, just as the hot UK is breaking temperature records.
Climate change is here. But it’s also everywhere.
Some of the countries competing in Birmingham have felt the effects most acutely.
Three Commonwealth athletes speak to BBC Sport about their fears and hopes for the future of sport, people and the planet.
Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya, athletics)
In 2019, Kipchoge became the first person to complete the marathon distance in less than two hours at a high-tech event in Vienna. He only switched to road after a successful track career, including a silver medal in the 5,000m in Delhi in 2010. He launched the Eliud Kipchoge Foundation, which focuses on the environment and education to improve lives around the world.
“Where I live and train, high up in rural Kenya, nearly 80 percent of the population is farmers.
“People know that rainfall is no longer what it was five years ago and climate change is real
“It has implications for athletes as well. Climate change is driving so much in some countries, it’s impossible to run for two or three hours.
“As a marathon runner, it’s really heartbreaking.
“It’s very difficult to run in a hotter environment. It’s frightening that at the end of a race or race you feel like all your energy has been drained.
“We saw that the marathon at the 2019 Doha World Championships had to start at midnight or it would be too hot.
“If you want to perform, if you want to really enjoy running, you have to have a clean environment, clean oxygen.
“So it was very important to me to stand up and speak up for the environment.
“Social media channels make it easier than ever to show people the effect. You can tell friends that this is our country, our continent, our habitat, our home. We don’t have anyone else.”
Eroni Sau (Fiji, Rugby Sevens)
Sau was part of the Fiji Rugby Sevens team that won silver on the Gold Coast in 2018. He also played two seasons in Edinburgh before moving to current club Provence in the south of France.
“There’s a big problem, especially where I grew up on the island. Especially there, you see the changes caused by climate change every day. It’s happening right before our eyes.
“In my mother’s village, there was a building that was a kitchen and bathroom. I was 10 meters from the beach when I was a kid. But it doesn’t exist anymore.
“All you can see is the foundation of the ocean floor.
“I came home recently after four years. There was a cemetery where we buried our grandparents and ancestors, but now people are talking about moving the bodies further inland or closer to the mountains because of rising sea levels.
“It really affects our lives, even the sport.
“As children, we loved to play rugby on the beach. We always played on the sand at the top of the beach, with the sea on one side and coconut palms on the other.
“Now while the sand is not there at high tide, the water flows over the coconut trees. There is no beach, no place for us to play.
“But it does affect the whole world. In France, I’m playing rugby right now and it feels hotter than at home. I felt dizzy when I got off the plane in Marseille because it felt so hot. I really find it hard to be in France in summer South.”
Mubal Azzam (Maldives, swimmer)
Azam was one of the flag-bearers for the Maldives’ Tokyo Olympics last summer. The 21-year-old is in three individual events and two relays for his country in 2022 in Birmingham.
“On many islands in the Maldives, houses are flooded and there are erosion problems.
“In Male, the capital where I’ve lived for most of my life, we have man-made beaches available to the public, but the distribution of sand has changed very dramatically, one area has been eroded a lot. The whole terrain has really changed.
“I’m seeing a growing environmental awareness of our generation of athletes. We’ve seen the effects firsthand.
“I used to train in the ocean with my team, which was difficult a lot of the time because the water was polluted.
“We knew we had to get used to it because we couldn’t change it at the time. But it got me thinking about how to help our country and humanity become more sustainable on the planet.
“I think the world of sports can have a lot of power to change opinions because it brings people together.
“I’ve met a lot of like-minded people. I think sport is powerful and it can make a big difference in the world.”