GB No. 1(20)/96
In reply to the open letter addressed to President Aleksander Kwaśniewski considering the organisation of Winter Olympic games in Zakopane I inform you on his behalf that Mr President shares the opinion of the Polish Ecological Club. He agrees that preparing the whole necessary sports infrastructure should be carefully planned and designed with consideration for the unique mountain nature and without violation of ecological balance in the region. Only such a solution can be accepted when deciding about location of the Games in the Tatra region. Therefore I would like to assure you that Mr President does not intend to organise the Olympiad at all costs. This offer is carefully analysed by competent people and institutions. Voices for and against are equally taken to consideration.
You mentioned in your letter that you will "consistently protest against any sports investments within the area of the national parks, including the Tatra Mountains National Park." I would only like to remind you that on the grounds of the Park there are already numerous sports facilities, ski tracks or lifts. They need to be modernised anyway. However, if Zakopane will be chosen as a location of the Olympic Games, the conservation works would be completed sooner.
Mr President supports only such an idea of organising the Olympiad in Poland that would be compliant with the rules of sustainable development. At the stage when the town authorities are preparing the application for the Games it is hard to protest against the plan other than it is not crystallised and has no definite basis. Moreover, no one has ever defined to what extent the areas of the Tatra Mountains National Park should be used. However, I understand your anxiety and I would like to stress the fact that the Minister of Environmental Protection is equipped in sufficient legal instruments to demand respect for the nature of the Tatras.
Organisation of the Olympic Games is a serious enterprise. It requires multistage works and considering many variants. Any investments must be preceded by environmental impact assessment. As I stated before, all critical remarks will be carefully analysed, also these of non-governmental ecological organisations.
As far as the economic aspect is taken into account, the enterprise has to be thoroughly studied by competent experts. However, it is widely known that no country has ever lost by organising the Games. The costs of Olympic facilities and promotion have soon been refunded during the event itself and afterwards, and during competitions organised thanks to the existing infrastructure.
On behalf of Mr President I would like to assure you again that the project of organising Winter Olympic Games in Poland will be thoroughly analysed before it will be probably accepted.
President Kwaśniewski replied to our open letter regarding Winter Olympiad 2006 in Zakopane. The text of the answer is published above. In our opinion the matter remains unsolved. The promoters of the project have not, so far, defined their investment plans. We are interested especially in the ones that would affect the Tatra Mountains National Park. In the press there have appeared articles about projects of organising the Olympic competitions not only in the area of the Kasprowy Wierch but also in the Chochołowska Valley and in the area of the Czerwone Wierchy. Moreover, the whole vicinity of the Krokiew ski jump is to be assigned for skiing: lifts and ski slopes leading to Kuźnice and Zakopane. The whole thing in a nutshell is that all the western Tatras are going to be assigned to skiing. We should be grateful that the promoters of the idea have not devised a plan of building an airport on the Hala Gąsienicowa, for instance. All the circles related to the governmental administration has been informed about our open letter, and mass media first of all. "Zielone Brygady" was the only periodic that published the whole text. Also "Dziennik Polski" printed it, but some important parts were cut off: they must have been inconvenient for our "Olympiad lovers". The editors did not mention, however, that the letter was trimmed - but dishonest journalism is another problem to deal with some other time.
We would like to inform you that on 20th April 1996 the National Parks Section of the Polish Ecological Club and the Academic Department of the Polish Tourism Society organised a closed discussion on the Olympic games in Poland. All interested parties were invited.
The results of the meeting will be reported in the next issue of our bulletin.
Jerzy Sawicki, M.S.
President of the PKE Section of National Parks
reprinted from Biuletyn Informacyjny
Zarządu Głównego PKE, April/May 1996
translated by M. Maciejewska