Richard Brisius, CEO of Stockholm Åre 2026 Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games bid, has expressed his delight after Swedish owned The Ocean Race was awarded a prestigious sustainability award on Thursday.
Alongside his mission to bring the Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games to Sweden for the first time , Brisius is also President of The Ocean Race – the world’s leading round-the-world sailing race – and has managed several teams as well as competed in the event over the past 30 years.
And The Ocean Race, which since 1973 has seen the world’s best sailors compete for sailing’s ultimate prize in some of the toughest conditions on the planet, fought off stiff competition from across the sport industry to scoop a pair of prizes – the Sustainability and Social Development Award and the Cutting Edge Sport Award – at a star-studded BT Sport Industry Awards ceremony in London.
“The Ocean Race has been a real passion of mine ever since I competed myself in the 1989-90 edition, and it’s an honour to be leading this truly global event where we are putting sustainability at the heart of the Race´s future,” said Brisius.
“In 2017-18, we used our influence to inspire millions of people through a nine-month global sporting event and we are honoured to have been recognised for the impact of this groundbreaking campaign.”
He added: “By engaging politicians and business leaders to implement change to policies and practices to address the ocean plastic crisis we sought clear long-term commitment for cleaner, healthier seas and are proud to have left such a lasting legacy.”
“In partnerships with organisations such as UN Environment and 11th Hour Racing we have brought global attention to the issue of ocean health and taking real and concrete steps to help ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’”
“Like the Stockholm Åre 2026 bid, sustainability is integrated within the DNA of The Ocean Race, and we have pledged to use the momentum we have built as a catalyst to continue our mission to restore ocean health.”
Brisius has previously outlined his ambition to make Stockholm Åre 2026 the most sustainable Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in history, and the bid has been built with sustainability in mind – with action taking place across four venues (Stockholm, Åre, Falun and Sigulda, Latvia) in order to align with the IOC’s Agenda 2020 initiative, which promotes a ‘use what you have, where you have it’ approach.
The Sustainability and Social Development Award was presented by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the BT Sport Industry award judges agreed that The Ocean Race was a shining example of best in class work. They commented that The Ocean Race used its scale, partnership family and data collection to drive the public affairs agenda leaving a demonstrable and compelling legacy.
In the 2017-18 edition, The Ocean Race sparked a global movement against plastic pollution to restore ocean health with a wide-reaching sustainability programme in partnership with the UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign. A boat, named ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’, raced around the world as part of the event, promoting plastic awareness and sustainable solutions to ocean pollution.
Meanwhile, a groundbreaking science initiative saw professional sailors turn scientists by collecting never-before-seen microplastic samples from the most remote spots on the planet, including Point Nemo – a place where The Ocean Race sailors are closer to the astronauts in the International Space Station than any other human on land.
Additionally, The Ocean Race delivered a state-of-the-art Race Village experience spanning digital and physical elements, a global Education Programme for both kids and teachers, and organised a series of Ocean Summits on five continents connecting key influencers in business, sport, government and science.
Brisius concluded that the success of The Ocean Race can act as a blueprint for how a sporting event can drive real change on a global scale.
“Inspired by the direction set by the IOC members, The Stockholm Åre 2026 bid is built with sustainability in full focus. We believe that Sweden can set a new standard, not just for the nation, but for the Olympic movement as a whole. We want to deliver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in a truly sustainable way.
He added: “We’re committed to working closely with the International Olympic Committee and in line with their Agenda 2020 initiative to deliver the most sustainable Olympic and Paralympic Games in history.”
The IOC will make a final decision on which Candidate City will be awarded the 2026 Games in just under two months, on 24 June 2019.