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A slam dunk for sustainability: How tech boosts sports’ green goals

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By William Xiong / Vice President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence and General Manager for International Industry Solutions

In the league of a greener future, technology is the sports industry’s star player, where scoring sustainability goals is as thrilling as the game itself, says William Xiong, Vice President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence and General Manager for International Industry Solutions.

With the upcoming Paris 2024 Games pinoneeringly aligning with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the sports industry is leading the charge in demonstrating how the world can achieve its green goals by embracing technological innovation.

Recognized by the United Nations as a pivotal contributor to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the sports industry has embraced sustainability as a strategic imperative. Deloitte’s latest report solidifies this stance, highlighting environmental sustainability as a definitive factor shaping the industry’s trajectory by 2030. This drive fuels the adoption of innovative practices, offering competitive advantages and attracting eco-conscious partners.

This is not just a passing trend—it embodies a necessary evolution in a world increasingly grappling with the ramifications of its environmental footprint. However, navigating the complexities of achieving these green objectives presents a formidable challenge. This is precisely where technological innovation, bolstered by Alibaba Cloud’s cutting-edge AI solutions and trusted cloud technologies, emerges as the Most Valuable Player (MVP), enabling the sports industry to make a slam dunk for sustainability.

AI Beyond Sports Performance

Artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics have proven their worth by enhancing athlete performance and redefining fan engagement. Coaches utilize AI for personalized training regimes while minimizing the risk of injury, and media organizations are leveraging AI to streamline content creation and curation, saving time and resources. Looking ahead, AI’s capacity to analyze digital assets will help sports organizations mine insights and repurpose content across multiple channels, enhancing fan experiences while promoting sustainability narratives.

However, the influence of technology in advancing sustainability goals extends far beyond the playing field. Let’s examine how leading solutions are being deployed in practical and high-impact scenarios:

Precision Eco-Impact Analytics with AI: Harnessing AI enables meticulous assessment and mitigation of the environmental footprint of sports events, providing data-driven insights for strategic carbon management. AI-driven sustainability platforms, like Alibaba Cloud’s Energy Expert, applied during the first-ever Olympic Esports Week in Singapore last year, are breaking new ground in quantifying the environmental impact of sporting events. By measuring and analyzing the carbon emissions from temporary constructions, these platforms enable organizers to make insightful decisions that reduce the ecological footprint of major events.

Eco-Efficient Cloud Transformation for Mega Sports Events: A transformative approach leverages cloud technologies to slash the carbon footprint of major sporting events, simultaneously enhancing operational efficiency and extending media reach. The Hangzhou Asian Games launched its core systems on Alibaba Cloud, with Alibaba Cloud powering core operational systems, results dissemination, and event management, resulting in a reduction of physical resources and a sustainable overall infrastructure for the event. The Olympics Winter Games Beijing 2022 expanded the use of Alibaba Cloud’s live content delivery platform on the cloud, initially piloted in Tokyo 2020, making the Games more accessible to broadcasters around the world with reduced carbon footprint.

Green Rewards for Sustainable Actions: An innovative incentive system rewards eco-friendly behaviors among event participants and spectators, fostering an environmentally responsible community culture. Alibaba Cloud’s sustainable lifestyle tool introduced at the Hangzhou Asian Games exemplifies how technology can encourage ecologically accountable behavior. By rewarding eco-friendly choices with tangible benefits, such as carbon points, the industry can foster a culture of sustainability among participants and spectators alike.

Interactive Green Playbook for Fans and Organizers: Sports federations and fans are empowered with state-of-the-art, cloud-powered sustainability toolkits that make environmental responsibility an engaging and educational aspect of the sporting experience. Organizations like the International Canoe Federation and the World Baseball Softball Confederation are harnessing cloud technology to create sustainability toolkits and enhance fan experiences. These toolkits assist organizers in adopting renewable energy and sustainable event management practices. Moreover, by infusing sustainability messaging into the fan experience through gamification, these organizations make environmental responsibility an engaging component of the sporting experience.

Tech is Integral to Every Green Playbook

The sports industry is proving that embracing technological innovations is necessary for achieving sustainability goals. Through innovative applications of AI, cloud computing, and digital engagement tools, the industry proves that environmental responsibility can go hand-in-hand with a winning performance. As we race towards a greener future, the sports sector stands as a testament to how embracing technology is not just a strategic move—it’s a necessary leap towards a sustainable planet for all.

As the journey towards a greener future continues, the sports industry is solidifying its position as a leader in sustainability. By strategically using technology, it is scoring goals for both the planet and the future of sports. The message is clear: sustainability and performance are not mutually exclusive; they are co-drivers of an industry that champions the well-being of our world as much as the thrill of the game.


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