Each athlete at the 2021 Winter European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Vuokatti, Finland will be presented with a designable drinking bottle and given access to what organisers describe as “the cleanest tap water in the world” in an effort to drastically reduce the amount of plastic used at the event.
The move is the latest initiative introduced by local organisers to ensure that the 15th edition of the Winter EYOF is as sustainable and environment-friendly as possible.
“We Finns want to set an example with our own actions and show that it is possible to organise a multisport event that respects environmental values,” said EYOF 2021 Secretary General Marita Kaipainen. “[All it requires] is just a little bit more time and effort in planning and lot of imagination. We hope to be trendsetters for future sport organisers.”
One of the key pillars of the Vuokatti project is environmental responsibility. This will be reflected in various aspects of the organisation, including policies and materials based on sustainable development and the use of renewable resources. The selection of products and materials for the event minimises the amount of plastic used, for example, in food-related activities.
As part of its ongoing commitment to the organisation of environment-friendly multisport events, the European Olympic Committees (EOC) fully supports the initiatives being undertaken by the Vuokatti 2021 team. The EOC Coordination Commission for the 2021 Winter EYOF has been working closely with the local organisers to prioritize and develop their green initiatives.
“We are committed to finding new ways and actions to make EOC sport events more sustainable,” said EOC Sports Director Peter Brüll. “For the first time at a major multisport event, we will be able to significantly decrease the amount of plastic waste by using refillable bottles for athletes. The European Youth Olympic Festival is not only about high-level sport performances but also social responsibility, and we are excited to take this important step forward.”
In addition, all but one of the venues to be used for Vuokatti 2021 are already existing, thereby significantly minimizing any potential impact on the environment. Only the Vuokatti Arena, currently under construction and already planned before Vuokatti was awarded the EYOF, needs to be built. The arena will host the short-track and figure skating competitions.
Vuokatti 2021 is scheduled to take place from 6-13 February 2021. All 50 European National Olympic Committees (ENOCs) are expected to send athletes to compete in seven sports: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross country skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, short track and snowboarding. For the first time in EYOF history, a girls ice hockey competition will be organised, making this edition of the EYOF the most gender-balanced since its inception in 1993, with exactly the same number of male and female athletes competing in the same number of sports and events.