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Commonwealth Games: How climate change is changing life around the world

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Alexander Stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 72 teams from around the world heading into Birmingham 2022.
host: Birmingham date: July 28th to August 8th
coverage: Watch live on BBC TV with additional streams from BBC iPlayer, Red Button, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport mobile app. Listen to BBC Radio 5 Live and Sports Extras.Live texts and clips online

Work on the redevelopment of Alexander Stadium began in February 2020. This was his wettest February on record in the UK.

The finishing touches to the Commonwealth Games highlights came in July 2022. Just like the temperature records were broken around the scorching heat of Britain.

Climate change is here. But it’s everywhere else.

And some of the nations competing in Birmingham are feeling the impact the most.

Three Commonwealth athletes speak to BBC Sport about their fears and hopes for the future of sport, humanity and the planet.

Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya, Athletics)

Eliud Kipchoge

Kipchoge famously became the first man to complete the marathon distance in less than two hours at the 2019 high-tech event in Vienna. He turned to public roads after achieving success in his track career, including winning his 5,000m silver medal in 2010 Delhi. The Eliud Kipchoge Foundation focuses on the environment and education to improve lives around the world.

“In the rural highlands of Kenya, where I live and train, nearly 80% of the population are farmers.

“People know that the rains are no longer the same as they were five years ago, and that climate change is real.

“Athletes are also affected. In some countries, climate change is so extreme that you can’t run for a few hours.

“As a marathon runner, I’m really sad.

“It’s very difficult to run in hot conditions. It’s scary to feel like you’ve lost all your energy at the end of a session or race.

“I saw at the 2019 World Championships in Doha that the marathon had to start at midnight because otherwise it would be too hot.

“If you want to perform, if you want to really enjoy running, you need a clean environment with clean oxygen.

“So it’s really important to me to stand up and speak out for the environment.

“Social media channels make it easier than ever to show people your impact. Telling friends that this is our country, our continent, our habitat, our home. There is no other.”

Eloni Sau (Fiji, Rugby Sevens)

Eloni Sau

Sau was part of the 2018 Gold Coast silver medal-winning Fiji Rugby Sevens team. Also at Edinburgh he played 2 his seasons before moving to his current club Provence in the South of France.

“There is a big problem, especially on the islands where I grew up, where we see the changes caused by climate change every day.

“In my mother’s village there was a building that was a block of kitchens and bathrooms. When I was a child it was 10 meters away from the beach. But now it’s gone.

“All you can see is the foundation of the ocean floor.

“I returned to my parents’ house for the first time in four years. There is a cemetery where my grandparents and ancestors were buried, but there are talks of moving the bodies inland or into the mountains due to rising sea levels.

“It affects our lives, even sports.

“When we were kids, we loved playing rugby on the beach.

“Now, at high tide there are no bands of sand, but the water rises past the coconut trees. There is no beach, no place for us to play.

“But it really affects the whole world. In France, where I play rugby now, it feels hotter than at home. When I got off the plane in Marseille, I felt dizzy. It felt too hot. South of France in summer.”

Mubal Azzam (Maldives, swimmer)

Mubar Azzam

Azzam was one of the Maldives’ flag bearers at last year’s Tokyo Olympics. The 21-year-old has qualified for his country in his three individual events and his two relays at Birmingham 2022.

“Many islands in the Maldives have flooded houses and are experiencing erosion problems.

“In the capital Male, where I have spent most of my life, there are man-made beaches that are open to the public, but there are very large variations in the arrangement of the sand and a lot of erosion in one area. The whole terrain really changed.

“We see a growing awareness of the environment among our generation of athletes, and we have seen the impact firsthand.

“I used to train with the team in the sea, but many times the water was very polluted and it was difficult to train.

“I knew I had to get used to it because I couldn’t change it at the time. .

“Sports communities bring people together and I think they can have great power to change perspectives.

“I have met many like-minded people. I feel that sport is powerful and has the potential to make a big impact on the world.”

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