Tokyo 2020 Olympics feature escalation, but environmentalists are not embracing it

With its participation in the Tokyo Olympics, rock climbing has finally gained the long-awaited attention. On August 3, the ancient sport will debut at the Olympics with three formats. These formats are: speed climbing (competing to complete a 15m high wall climb first while having ropes for safety, bouldering), climbing on unknown irregular routes without using a rope or some other form of support (safety mats are there), and the lead climb (climb as high as the climber can in six minutes).

Dating back to 200 BC, the sport is now in the limelight with the Olympics. However, escalation, and particularly bouldering, is also attracting negative attention from environmentalists. The concern is with the climbing chalk they use, a powder made from magnesium carbonate, which is believed to cause friction and help climbers. It is the same powder which is also used by gymnasts and weightlifters.

However, the use of this substance in the natural environment can have negative effects on the environment. Climbing chalk has a negative impact on the germination and survival of rock-specific ferns and mosses, according to research published in October 2020. The study found that all four species were negatively affected in the lab, even after wiping off the chalk. This effect is significant, say environmentalists. because boulders are home to unique ecosystems, different from the soil on which they rest.

On the other hand, it is not clear whether climbing chalk actually helps athletes with their grip. Some research articles have found that it does not provide any grip benefit, while others have reason to believe in its value. But it provides psychological help. “When you face a problem on a rock, what do you do? You powder your hands and keep going, ”Daniel Hepenstrick, one of the authors of the 2020 study, told National Geographic.

However, scientists caution against considering their study conclusive because the field requires more work to uncover its ramifications.

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