'Tour de Kyushu' Cycling Race To Merge Sport and Sustainability

International sporting events are increasingly incorporating the SDGs, and the upcoming Tour de Kyushu, planned with sustainability in mind, is no exception.

The first Tour de Kyushu cycling race is set to take place in the Kyushu region of Japan in October 2023. Run over a period of four days, the event expects to attract cyclists from around the world.

Starting in Fukuoka, the event will take riders through various scenic routes, including the mountainous terrain of Kumamoto and Oita prefectures.

But this race is not just about the competition – it's also about promoting sustainability.

Tour de Kyushu and Sustainability

First and foremost is encouraging cultural exchange and understanding through tourism.

Ryuzo Nakaya, Event Director at Tour de Kyushu, explains. "When people go to see the Tour de France, they also see a castle, and drink wine. Bringing people to Kyushu for this race will promote tourism too," he said.

Tour de Kyushu
Tour de Kyushu route through scenic mountain road (Photo courtesy of Tour de Kyushu).

The organizers aim to have 18 teams participating, each team with six members. Their goal is to have half of these teams come in from other countries. Combined with visits from participants and spectators from around Japan, the event is expected to provide a boost to the local economy.

Tour de Kyushu organizers have also committed to reducing the environmental impact of the race. Plans are underway to implement sustainable practices for the event.

For example, organizers are negotiating with car manufacturers in Japan on borrowing hydrogen-powered or hybrid low-carbon vehicles for the official cars that ride alongside cyclists.

Other efforts include plans to reduce plastic waste and utilize renewable energy. The creation of educational programs on the SDGs, sports, and international exchange for high school students is also in the works.

Sustainability a Trend in Cycling

According to Nakaya, cycling road races around the world are increasingly taking environmental concerns into account.

An event to be held in Norway in the summer of 2023 will be the first to employ only electric vehicles (EVs) for official cars in the race.

Members of the Tour de Kyushu organizing committee check out the planned finish line of the Tour de Kyushu. Mt. Aso, with its magnificent scenery, is included in the course (©Sankei by Mayuko Ichii).

Nakaya explained, "The SDGs are very broad. We've had proposals from our sponsors on ways to incorporate the goals into the race. We are also coordinating with local communities and implementing our own ideas, such as contributing to the education of local students."

Considering the potential carbon emissions of international competitions based on air travel, the trend to ensure events themselves have as little impact as possible on the environment is a positive one.