Australia’s Most Decorated Olympian Emma McKeon’s Message to World Leaders Gathering in Glasgow for COP26

Australia’s most successful Olympian Emma McKeon has teamed up with athletes from around the world to send leaders a strong message on climate change.

It happens while representatives are gathering for the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.

The group of Olympic champions recalled the challenges they overcame to compete at the Tokyo Olympics and called on world leaders to do the same to tackle climate change.

Swimmer McKeon recorded a message as part of the video Dear Leaders of the World.

Last week, McKeon took the 2021 FINA Swimming World Cup in Kazan, Russia on the back of his seven medals at the Olympics in Tokyo this year.

The two-minute clip also prompted world leaders to “lead the herd” and “go faster”, acknowledging that they, like athletes, are “under enormous pressure and adversity”.

Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge, British diving champion Tom Daley, great tennis player Andy Murray and New Zealand rower Emma Twigg all offered their profiles to the message.

Emma McKeon poses in front of a rock wall with all her medals.
Emma McKeon dominated at the Olympics in Toyko to become Australia’s most successful Olympian.(Getty: Brendon Thorne)

While produced with the support of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the prayer was conceived by the British sailor Hannah Mills.

“The Olympic dream is about being the best you can be – and it doesn’t just mean competing or winning medals; it means being a good global citizen,” Mills said.

“I feel we have a responsibility to use our platforms to highlight the need for us all to live and operate in a more responsible way.”

Brisbane 2032 will be the first Olympic Games to be climate positive

Sustainability is a key goal of the IOC and the Olympic agenda in the future.

Brisbane 2032 will be the first Olympic Games required to be climate-positive, although Paris 2024 is working on staging a climate-positive event.

The IOC has also helped develop the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, which drives climate action from international sports bodies, 270 organizations have signed up since the start in 2018.

President Thomas Bach said the IOC encourages athletes to leverage their profile to promote sustainability through sport.

“Sport has the power to make the world a better place, and today we have the opportunity to use that power in the face of climate change.”

The video shows more than 50 Olympic and Paralympic players from all corners of the world.

Global negotiations will continue in Glasgow over the next two weeks with around 120 world leaders gathering.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told the conference that Australia was committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and has stressed that technological developments will be the key to reducing pollution.

The UN’s Sports for Climate Action Framework includes five principles aimed at reducing the overall climate impact, educating and advocating for climate change action.


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