WATERLOO, Ontario, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Global warming may mean only six of the previous Winter Olympics host cities will be cold enough to host the Games by the end of this century, researchers say.
Even with the most conservative warming projections, only 11 of the previous 19 sites could host the Games in the coming decades, Canadian and Austrian researchers report.
Internationally renowned Olympic sites such as Squaw Valley in the United States, Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany, Vancouver in Canada and Sochi Russia would no longer have climates suitable to reliably host the Games by the middle of the 21st century, they said.
"The cultural legacy of the world's celebration of winter sport is increasingly at risk," Daniel Scott, a Canada Research Chair in Global Tourism and lead author of the study, said. "Fewer and fewer traditional winter sports regions will be able to host a Olympic Winter Games in a warmer world."
The average February daytime temperature of Winter Games locations has steadily increased -- from 32.7 degrees F at Games held in the 1920-50s, to 37.5 degrees in Games during the 1960-90s, and 46 degrees in Games held in the 21st century, the researchers said.
"Today it would be difficult to imagine successfully delivering the diverse Games program exclusively on natural ice and snow, as it was in the early decades of the Olympic Winter Games," Robert Steiger of the Management Center Innsbruck in Austria said.
For some cities and regions interested in hosting a future Winter Olympics, the time to bid for the games might be sooner than later, the researchers said.