News01 Nov 2022

More than 76% of athletes share serious concern about the climate crisis - World Athletics survey


Toshikazu Yamanishi competes in the 20km Race Walk at the 2022 World Championships (© Getty Images)

More than three-quarters of our sport's athletes are very concerned about climate change, according to the second annual survey conducted by World Athletics to gauge the attitudes of elite athletes have about environmental and social issues.

The survey, released to coincide with the start of the COP27 United Nations Climate Summit in Sharm El Sheik Egypt and the announcement of the World Athletics Champions for a Better World programme, found that 76% of athletes surveyed at four World Athletics championships events in 2022 said they are either extremely concerned or very concerned about climate change. Another 16% said they were moderately concerned.

The data revealed that 66% are feeling impacted directly by the effects of climate change. Seven in ten (72%) believe climate change has already impacted athletics directly. Finally, 90% said that World Athletics does have a role to play in addressing sustainability in the sport.

The survey was carried out at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships and the World Athletics Indoor Championships in March, the World Athletics Championships in July and the World Athletics U20 Championships in August with 737 athletes across 122 countries giving responses.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: "It's clear that an overwhelming majority of our athletes are very concerned about the impacts that climate change is having on their lives and on our sport. It's critical for us to act on those concerns, to put practical applications in place where we can, and to drive the sport forward with the advocacy and the high-profile voices that athletes can bring."

The survey also revealed that nearly 71% of respondents said they were either extremely concerned or very concerned about air pollution.

In addition to highlighting concerns that athletes have about climate change, the results show an overwhelming appetite for change among athletes, with more than 77% of respondents saying they are willing to change their lifestyle to reduce the damage their activities cause to the environment. 84% said they already recycled frequently, while 71% claimed they mostly avoided using single-use plastic.