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How Adidas floated a tennis court on the ocean before the Australian Open

Floating a court on the Great Barrier Reef, sports apparel giant Adidas served up tennis on sea to raise awareness about ocean pollution before the Australian Open.

Floating tennis court on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia Adidas

Floating tennis court on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia (Courtesy: Adidas)


Sohinee Basu

Published: 19 Jan 2022 3:55 PM GMT

'Water, water everywhere and not a drop a drink' is how famously Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner rings to the ears but given the pollution that takes place in the ocean, it won't be a surprise if Coleridge's words soon came true.

In a bid to raise awareness about ocean pollution especially with plastic waste, sports apparel giant Adidas floated a full-size tennis court on the Great Barrier Reef ahead of the Australian Open 2022, in an innovative but meaningful campaign to launch their new tennis apparel range that is sustainable and made in part with Parley Ocean Plastic and boasting of hues inspired by the Great Barrier Reef itself - striking coral reds seeping into deep, royal blues.

Built on a floating barge that has been carefully anchored with the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system, which embraces the coastline of Queensland in northeastern Australia, the tennis court was built using recyclable plastic materials.

Tennis onboard the floating tennis court (Source: Adidas)

If and when we do manage to recover from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the bigger reality that we'll have to face is the one concerning climate change. The oceans are greatly polluted and it is believed that if we do not switch to more sustainable methods of living and cut down on plastic waste, then the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050. The Great Barrier Reef is home to one of the world's richest ecosystems and is facing several threats because of ocean pollution.

Shedding light on the campaign to Grazia, Adidas' Pacific Senior Director of Brand Shannon Morgan explained, "We collect plastic off coastal communities before it goes into the oceans and turn it into yarn," she said, which is a method Adidas has been adopting since 2015 when it announced its partnership with ocean warriors Parley.

"You'll see our athletes (the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev) in the range on the court at the Australian Open on Monday. We're using a sporting event – the biggest in our backyard – to really showcase the beauty of the reef," Shannon mentioned to the magazine.

All afloat for a game of tennis (Source: Adidas)

Inviting Australian sporting personalities Ian Thorpe, Jess Fox, Steph Claire Smith, and Nathan Cleary to come onboard the full-sized ocean tennis court atop of a barge in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef for a match of tennis, Adidas' campaign ticks all the boxes of innovation and is indeed wise.

The athletes had a gala time playing tennis on the wobbly court being rocked by the sea as many a truant ball fell into the ocean (the balls were later retrieved). The court, built entirely with recyclable materials, was then donated to a school in Townsville.

Additionally, Adidas has also pledged to manufacture products using eco-friendly means. The company says it will eliminate virgin polyester from production by 2024, as polyester, a fabric greatly loved by athletes, is sourced from petroleum which is a non-biodegradable source of energy. Adidas has also promised to reduce its carbon footprint by 30% by 2030, leading the way, like many of its rival brands, towards a more sustainable future.

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