‘Trust Science,’ Paris Mayor Tells Air Conditioning Athletes

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo speaks during an interview with Reuters at Paris’ city hall on March 13.

PARIS (Reuters) — With competing nations split over whether to enter into the spirit of the “Green Games” or throw money at success whatever the environmental cost, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo told those nations planning on installing air conditioning at the athletes’ village to “trust the science” instead.

Temperatures are expected to soar again in the European summer, after setting records in 2023, but there will be no air conditioning in the athletes’ rooms at Paris 2024, which has pledged to host the “greenest ever” Games.

Instead, buildings in the athletes’ village have been designed with a cooling system drawing water from underground, and facades orientated so they get little direct sun.

“This village was designed to avoid the need for air conditioning, even in very, very high temperatures, in order to maintain comfortable temperatures,” Hidalgo told Reuters on March 13.

With climate scientists warning that global warming has produced more extreme weather patterns in much of the world, organizers of Paris 2024 have said they want to halve the carbon footprint compared with the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Summer Games.

“I think we have to trust science on two counts. The first is what scientists are telling us about the fact that we are on the brink of a precipice. Everyone, including the athletes, must be aware of this,” said Hidalgo.

“And secondly, we have to trust the scientists when they help us to construct buildings in a sober way that allows us to make do without air conditioning.”

Not all competitors convinced

Yet, the Olympic Committees from Australia, Brazil, Canada and Norway are among those who believe it will not be enough.

“Our clear wish is that there should be air-conditioning in all rooms,” the Norwegian Committee told Reuters, with Brazil saying “the heat forecast” made it “necessary to invest in renting air-conditioning units for the entire delegation.”

Australia’s Chef de Mission Anna Meares said they were “looking at portable air conditioners to offer the athletes should they choose to if it gets hot, if it’s uncomfortable.”

The Canadian Olympic Committee told Reuters it had “implemented a number of heat mitigation strategies in Paris to complement the measures put in place by the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, including air conditioning units in some athlete rooms in case of extreme heat.”

What matters for Hidalgo, however, is that the athletes’ village, which will be home to some 6,000 Parisiens after the Games, is a sustainable project.

“But then they do what they want, I’m not going to tell them what to do,” she said.

“What matters to me is that these buildings, these flats will become a neighborhood where people from L’Ile-Saint-Denis, Saint-Ouen and Saint-Denis [in the Paris suburbs] will live. These new buildings won’t need air conditioning, so we’re working for the long term.”

Lending support to the organizers’ vision, several other delegations have said they fully trust they will not need air conditioning at the Games.

“We have visited the Olympic Village in Paris regularly in the last years and rate the clever cooling system installed in floor and ceiling to be sufficient for the climate zone,” the German Olympic Committee told Reuters.

“Additional passive prevention coming with the windows does further add to this. Nevertheless we have asked our federations whether or not they want to rent the extra air conditioning offered by the Paris 2024 rate card system. The vast majority of our federations have judged this to be unnecessary.”