Acapulco, Mexico: It’s hard to imagine an Olympic opening or closing ceremony without fireworks exploding in the night sky over a packed stadium.
That tradition could be on the way out, though, under a proposal being considered by the International Olympic Committee.
IOC president Jacques Rogge on Suday said his organization would study recommendations to eliminate firework displays in a bid to protect the environment by cutting harmful emissions.
“I’m not saying we are going to eliminate fireworks,” Rogge said. “I’m saying we’re going to study it seriously.”
Sri Lanka’s national Olympic committee proposed the measure, suggesting that technology or laser shows could replace fireworks.
“Environment is environment,” said Maxwell De Silva, secretary general of the Sri Lakan committee. “The clashing of your ideals is on the one hand saying, ‘OK, clean games,’ on the other hand you are polluting - it’s a contradiction.”
Rogge said he would raise the issue with the IOC environment commission and Olympic host organizers.
“We have to evaluate the carbon footprint,” said IOC executive board member Thomas Bach of Germany. “If it’s significant, I think it’s a good idea to speak with the organizers.
“I could imagine an opening ceremony without fireworks. Maybe it’s a matter of taste, but for me it would depend on the significance of the impact on the environment. If that’s significant, then why not?”
Gilbert Felli, the IOC’s executive director of the Olympic Games, said officials need to strike the right balance between environmental protection and sporting entertainment.
“We are trying to understand if we can have the same feeling, the same festive aspect, and reducing the footprint or the energy,” he said.
It wouldn’t be the first time the IOC dropped a major feature of the opening ceremony. Rogge noted the IOC did away with the tradition of releasing doves after many of the birds were burned to death during the lighting of the cauldron at the opening of the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
“We got a lot of emotions coming from the World Wildlife Fund and animal protection (groups) and the IOC decided on no release of doves any more,” he said.
London Olympics organizers said they have only started working on preliminary plans for their opening ceremony, which will be handled by Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle.
“We haven’t gotten to the stage of discussing fireworks,” London 2012 spokeswoman Jackie Brock-Doyle said.
“I will listen to the observations of all 205 national Olympic committees,” London organizing committee head Sebastian Coe said.