Jun 6, 2024 - World

Scorching Olympians toting air conditioners stymie Paris' claim to greenest Games

The Paris 2024 Olympic Games logo is displayed near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on April 21, 2024.

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Efforts to set up the greenest Olympics yet are being foiled by the stars of the show — athletes who plan to show up in Paris next month with their own air conditioners.

Why it matters: Some see expanding the Games' carbon footprint as a necessity in the face of summer temperatures if athletes are expected to maintain peak performance.

  • Though it's too soon to tell what the weather will be like when the Paris Games open on July 26, Europe experienced record-shattering highs last summer.

State of play: The International Olympic Committee has vowed that Paris will mark the most sustainable Games yet, outlining a multiprong plan to "halve the Games-related carbon footprint compared to previous Games."

  • This has included setting up a water-based cooling system in the Olympic Village rather than air conditioners, which will ensure the site has a 30% lower carbon footprint than a traditional construction project.

The big picture: Many countries are planning to use portable air-conditioning units in at least some of their athletes' rooms, the Washington Post reported.

  • These include the U.S., U.K., Denmark and Italy, among others.
  • The Australian Olympic Committee's decision to install air conditioners in all of its athletes' rooms is "strategic for high performance" and is meant to help their sleep, Anna Meares, the leader of the country's delegation, told The Guardian.
  • Alexandra Palli, president of the Greek Olympic committee for environmental sustainability, told the Post the team was bringing the air-conditioning units in response to its athletes' wishes.

Zoom in: The Olympic Village's water-based cooling system will draw water from the Seine River to cooling power stations. From there, the cooled water will be sent through the buildings' pipes.

  • Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told Reuters in March that countries looking to bring their own air conditioners should "trust the science" behind the new cooling system.

Go deeper: Europe heat wave's scorched lessons

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