Like one of the many enjoyable parts of modern life or modern entertainment, significant change is needed in Tennis, but the essence can be preserved.
We caught up with Andrew, our Hospitality Climate Sector Lead and Former Hawkeye operative at the Wimbledon Finals, to find out what needs to be considered before these events can be classed as sustainable without taking the joy out of iconic tournaments such as Wimbledon.
One of my favourite parts of the year has started; Wimbledon! As an avid Tennis follower and someone conscious of their climate impact, it should be a joy to see players from around the globe come together and hear the 'PLOCK!' of the first serve. But beyond the lush grass of Henman Hill - Tennis and sport in general has a long way to go to have a truly positive impact on the world.
The BBC has addressed this with their article on what individual players are doing, in conjunction with the governing ATP (read more here). And Wimbledon themselves are aware of the journey ahead hosting an ‘Environment Positive Panel’ before the tournament, which sought to bring together the different perspectives of tennis, the wider sporting environment and broader governmental policy to focus on the current state of play, solutions for action by drawing on experiences from across the audience and the opportunity that exists for sport, and in particular tennis to continue to drive change.
Often described as 'temporary cities', Tennis Tournaments have a lot of contributors - and it's important to define whatever boundaries the event in question is responsible for. In the categories below, I have considered Players, Umpires, Spectators, Catering staff, Official drivers and many more.
Travel, Food, Energy & Power
How everyone above travels to the event is a crucial part of a footprint's Scope 3. Flights are inevitable in the global sport of Tennis but more interest in intra-continental train travel is taking place as the structure of the Tennis calendar allows. In addition, so much carbon can be avoided by serving majority vegetarian food options, investing in renewable energy generation (or at least a green tariff) and promoting efficiency and zero waste as principles for anyone involved.
It's been visually powerful to see the re-fillable water bottle initiative introduced at British Tennis events this year in partnership with Evian, avoiding the mountain of bottles players (quite fairly) get through during their gruelling hours of baseline battle. But I would hope this is more strictly administered and rolled out across the Tennis tour; no more bottles delivered in plastic bags mid-way through a match please Andy Murray!
- Equipment: Tennis requires rackets, strings, balls and much more, all of which could be circular in their own right and not made from virgin material. It's also interesting to consider how rule or tradition changes could lessen material requirements- see this great video about how warm ups, warm up the planet!
- Sponsorship: Those who sponsor an event aim to make money and fund their work from the exposure. It is no wonder multiple 'Just Stop Oil' protests have happened at The Championships so far with Barclays a noticeable presence at the event (and a notable funder of the climate crisis)
Impact on the local community & beyond
These events are obviously a huge boost for local pubs, hotels and the community in general. I'd like to see Wimbledon doing more to support sustainable methods of things like large TV Screen powering and protection of local greenery and wildlife during the periods of high foot traffic.
I will continue to love watching Tennis and want to see it thrive, but I will also continue making a racket about climate impact in every walk of life- let's hope our Tennis icons do the same!
Net Zero Now has recently been working with many other event hosts, including a large cricket stadium and a legendary festival, to help them understand their footprint and decarbonise quickly and effectively. With so many contributing factors, the event industry is arguably a little more challenging than many others. But as Wimbledon are aware, collaboration is key and it will take a village to get to Net Zero.
To find out more about how to decarbonise your event or business head to netzeronow.org.