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In towns and cities and in rural and regional areas across Australia, sport is the social fabric of communities, nurturing social networks and forging long-lasting friendships. Climate change – driven mainly by burning fossil fuels and land clearing – is worsening extreme weather in Australia, playing havoc with both elite and grassroots-level sport.

As the intensity and severity of climate change grows, there has been increasing media coverage on the impacts of extreme weather on sporting events. This report describes the influence of climate change on extreme weather events, with a specific focus on how each type of event can affect specific sports. For example, heatwaves on tennis; drought on cricket; bushfire smoke on soccer/football; intense rainfall on community sport; sea-level rise and shifting storms on surfing. The report looks at climate projections and how summer sport might become unplayable without rapid emissions reductions and significant climate adaptations.

Key findings:

  • By 2040, heatwaves in Sydney and Melbourne could reach highs of 50°C, threatening the viability of summer sport as it is currently played.
  • No athlete, whether an elite professional or a community player, is immune to our increasingly hot summers, which are a health hazard for those playing and watching sport.
  • Australian sport is worth $50 billion to the economy and employs over 220,000 people, but governments are not adequately prepared for escalating climate risks.
  • Sport is a contributor to climate change, but it can also be an integral part of the solution.
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