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Report sounds warning over extreme heat at Paris Olympics

By RFI
Sports News © Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
WED, 19 JUN 2024 LISTEN
© Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

A report backed by climate scientists and athletes has warned that extreme temperatures expected at this year's Paris Olympics will pose health dangers for those competing.

A collaboration between the NGO Climate Central, Britain's University of Portsmouth and 11 Olympians, the report said conditions in Paris could be worse than the Tokyo Games in 2021.

"The next Olympics in Paris is now upon us, and notable cases of extreme heat undermining the health and enjoyment of sporting spectacles have only increased in the intervening years [since the Tokyo Olympics]," the report said.

Titled "Rings of Fire", the report warned that intense heat at the Paris Olympics could lead to competitors collapsing and in worst case scenarios even dying.

It urged organisers to provide improved rehydration and cooling plans for athletes and fans to avoid the risk of heat stroke.

The study adds to a growing number of calls from sports people to adjust schedules and the timing of events to take into account the physical strain of competing in higher temperatures caused by climate change.

Hottest months

The Paris Olympics, which run from 26 July to 11 August, will take place in what are usually the warmest months in the French capital, which has been struck by a series of record heatwaves in recent years.

Last year more than 5,000 people died in France as a result of searing summer heat and local highs above 40 degrees.

Temperatures are expected to soar again in the European summer, after setting records in 2023, with French national weather agency Meteo-France saying that conditions are likely to be warmer than normal.

"The fact that the Olympics will take place during high summer means that the threat of a devastating hot spell is a very real one," the report said.

Organisers of Paris 2024 say they have built flexibility into their schedules, enabling them to shift around some events such as the marathon or triathlon to avoid the peaks of midday heat.

But much of the Games is set to take place in temporary stands that lack shade, while the athletes' village has been built without air conditioning to reduce the Games' carbon footprint.

(with newswires)

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