Earth Chat

【Olympics Series】Sports and Environment Get a New Champion: Wong Kam Po

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will officially start tonight. With global awareness of the climate change crisis, many international sports games have incorporated green elements in recent years. Last time, we introduced star athletes from "Team Earth" and their green tips on sports. This time, we invited Mr. Wong Kam Po, ‘Asia’s god of cycling’, the former representative of the Hong Kong Cycling Team, and now Sports Legacy Scheme Deputy Manager (Programme Development), to share new green trends in sports games.

Photo source: Cycling Weekly

Designs of Bikes and Games Becoming Eco-friendly

"From my 20-year experience of being a professional cyclist, my thought is that the performance of athletes have improved faster. But the speed is no match for the progress in the improvements made to bicycle technology and environmental awareness,” Wong said.

Wong, who has represented Hong Kong for five Olympic Games, has participated in many competitions around the world during the time. He mentioned that Europe is the origin of cycling and it pays a great deal of attention to environmental protection. In recent years, several races and bicycle designs have incorporated green elements. Take racedesigns as an example, many large-scale international cycling tournaments are highly concerned over the disposal of water bottles. Wong recalled that athletes in the past used to carelessly throw away plastic bottles after passing through supply stations. But this trash could still remain after a couple decades, polluting the nature. As more people are concerned about nature conservation nowadays, there are some new rules in place. For example, host organizations ask athletes to put empty bottles in team cars or give them away to the audience along the way. Some hosts even request athletes not to bring one-off bottles to the race but prepare their own reusable water bottles. This shows that there is a greater focus on environmental protection from international competitions.

On bicycle design, Wong mentioned that in his childhood, there were some manufacturers creating bicycles made of recyclable materials like soda cans. These green bicycles could be even be used in competitions proper. He believes that the cycling industry has a certain stance on the choice of raw materials to reduce damage to the environment. Wong deems that whether you are a producer, athlete, audience, or organizer, you can play a decisive role in nature conservation.

The Inseparable Relationship Between Sports and Nature

Global warming is worsening by the day, athletes’ daily training and competitions will be affected by climate change. Wong explained, many sports like running and cycling are inseparable from nature, as many events are held in forests and mountains. Therefore, we should all contribute to protect natural resources for the planet. For instance, athletes inevitably drink plenty of water during intensive training. Wong suggested athletes to prepare their own recyclable water bottles to avoid wastages. Besides, athletes always have many sportswear provided by sponsors. Wong is used to donating excess clothing to others instead of dumping them. He said, "From the perspective of an athlete, I think we can do more for nature.”

To Young Athletes: Chase Your Dreams and Never Quit

Looking back as a veteran of the sporting community, Wong encouraged young athletes to keep chasing their dreams and never give up. "Young people and our juniors have to build their goals step by step. They have to progress well in both academy and sports evenly. Learn not to rush too much because the process takes time.” Wong likened the process to walking up the stairs. Take rests, progress steadily, and you will your way to improve.

Plant Trees to Cool the Earth, Every Second Counts
Although Wong has retired from professional cycling, he is still active in the Hong Kong sporting community. Wong is now a Sports Legacy Scheme Deputy Manager (Programme Development) of Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong to help juveniles find their potential in sports. When we invited Wong to be the ambassador for our ‘Tree Planting Challenge 2021’, Wong agreed promptly despite his busy schedule. Tree planting took place during the days of the hot summer, but Wong was not afraid of the high temperature or the sunlight and continued to plant trees. He was also humble and interested in learning more about trees from the arborist when he was resting. He even asked if he could plant more trees before leaving.

The long-lasting pandemic has not stopped Friends of the Earth (HK) from planting trees to save the Earth and fulfilling our commitment to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the sponsors of ‘Tree Planting Challenge 2021’. Since June this year, we have held several small-scale tree planting activities. In addition to inviting Hong Kong sports elites to cheer for the participants, an arborist was also specially invited to the planting site to share knowledge of local tree species and the importance of planting local tree species  to enhance biodiversity and ecological value. In the process of planting trees, participants were surrounded by nature. They were able to breathe in the fresh air, exercise, build teamwork, and learn about tree planting and carbon reduction from the arborist. At the same time, they captured these moments with their cameras and took photos with saplings to enjoy an unforgettable outdoor charity event.

The scope of planting tree activities was limited due to the pandemic. However, the variety of tree species kept enthusiasms high. Athletes, arborists, and sponsors cooperated to plant every sapling with love and care. Up to now, we have already planted over 4000 local trees. To mitigate climate change, we shall spare no efforts. If your company intends to plant for the future, tree planting is one of the direct and effective ways to decarbonize. Please join us now!


Tree Planting Challenge:

Interested Topic:
City Forestry, Forestry City
Climate Change
Eco City
Nature Conservation

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