Green Britannia: Deconstructing ‘Team Green Britain’ and the London 2012 Olympic Games

By Maxine Newlands.

Published by The Sport Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

“The London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics Games will be the 'greenest' games in history” according to the British Government. Since the Sydney games (2000) there is increasingly a conflating between sports and environmentalism. Indeed, a key factor in London’s securing of the 2012 games was sustainable development and a green legacy; as it promises to addressing climate change, waste, biodiversity, inclusion and healthy living (LOCO website). This sports/environmental discourse also extends to key corporate partnership of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics games.
Today sponsors are reconstructing –or at least representing themselves as ecological. Major sponsors EDF Energy have combined sports and environmentalism to create ‘Team Green Britain’. EDF Energy aims to raise awareness of climate change through sports and music events. ‘Team Green Britain’ applies a sports narrative to environmental discourse. Their logo, a ‘green’ union jack flag implies both the sense of nationalism associated with mega-events such as the Olympics, and adds an environmental vernacular to its’ image. Yet, the green union jack is also the logo of ‘Ecotricity’ an energy company which invests in renewable sources. Indeed, Ecotricity have two wind turbines close to the Olympic site in Stratford. This form of ‘green washing’ has been leveled at the Sydney games (Beder 2000) and potentially could impact on London 2012.
This paper will deconstruct how sports narratives, such as nationalism, patriotism, social and cultural success, combined with environmental rhetoric represent ‘Green Britannia’; and ask if 2012 can truly be the ‘greenest games in history’.

Keywords: 2012, Olympics, London, Sport, Environmentalism, Greenwashing

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.185-194. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 611.209KB).

Maxine Newlands

Programme Leader BA Sports Journalism/Senior Lecturer, Sports Journalism, University of East London, London, London, UK

I am the programme convenor for BA Sports Journalism at the University of East London (UEL). UEL is an official pre-training camp for the London 2012 games, and just six kilometers from the 2012 Olympic site. I am a former media practitioner in sports journalism, with particular focus on sports broadcasting. I spent five years as a senior producer at a national sports radio station in the UK. My research interest looks at the relationship between environmentalism and sports. I am combining my theoretical knowledge of environmentalism with the practicalities of sports journalism.