Paris 2024 Summer Olympics could break heat records. Will it put athletes at risk?

Paris 2024 Summer Olympics could break heat records. Will it put athletes at risk?


The risk of a heat wave hovers over the Paris Olympic Games.

The last Summer Olympics in Tokyo were the hottest on record, but a new report on heat risks at the Paris Olympics warns that this year could be even hotter.

Since Paris last hosted the Summer Games in 1924, the average temperature at this time of year has risen by about 3.1 degrees Celsius (or about 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit).

Heat waves have increased in frequency and intensity in Paris. the “urban heat island effect,” where urban areas tend to be warmer than rural areas, has only exacerbated the problem in the Paris region.

A Parisian summer can see temperatures reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit. On July 25, 2019, Paris arrived at his all time high record temperature of 108.7 degrees Fahrenheit, almost exactly five years before the Summer Olympics begin.

As the world warms due to climate changeathletes and scientists express concern about what this means for the future of the peak of sports competition that occurs in the summer.

Last summer in France more than 5,000 people died due to the suffocating heat.

“I'm still in awe of the timing of these Olympics,” says Kaitlyn Trudeau, senior research associate for climate science at Climate Central. “We've seen such deadly heat waves in this exact place at this exact time many times in recent history.”

Dangers to athletes competing and training in these conditions can range from heatstroke to collapse due to heatstroke.

James Farndale, a rugby player who has represented both Scotland and Great Britain, says he trained in hot rooms at a training base in Scotland before competing in the Dubai Seven. He warned that athletes are not conditioned to hold back, even in unsafe conditions.

“It is not in the DNA of an athlete to stop and if the conditions are too dangerous I think there is a risk of death,” says Farnale.

The Olympic flame arrives in France ahead of the 2024 Paris Games


The Tokyo Olympic Games Athletes vomited and even passed out at the finish line with nearly one in 100 athletes suffering from a heat-related illness.

An athlete at the last Summer Olympics expressed concern about heat exhaustion mid-game. Daniel Medvedev, one of the top five men's tennis players, took home several medical downtime during his tennis match before asking if he can continue playing.

“I can finish the match but I can die,” Medvedev replied. “If I die, will you be responsible?”

The rise in not only the temperatures but the humidity it adds to the risk of heat stroke, according to Trudeau, which he says makes it harder for bodies to sweat to cool down and regulate core temperature.

Paris Olympic organizers say heat risks have been taken into account when scheduling outdoor sports, including scheduling marathon and triathlon events in the early hours of the morning. Contingency plans are in place to reschedule events based on the level of heat and humidity each day. Each decision will be made on a sport-by-sport basis with the International Federation, according to a statement to CBS News from a Paris 2024 spokesperson.

These efforts to stay safe from extreme heat will extend beyond athletes to include fans, volunteers and workers. Spectators may bring their own water bottles. There will be free water refill points at each venue at a ratio of one for every 300 spectators.

Paris 2024 has promised to deliver a “more responsible, more sustainable and more inclusive” Olympic Games. Organizers emphasized reducing the carbon footprint by using pre-existing sites and using the subway and bike lanes to minimize travel emissions.

A climate mitigation effort has sparked concern among athletes. The Olympic Villa will not have air conditioning. A water-based cooling system will be used instead, but some athletes bring their own air conditioners. The US, UK, Australia, Denmark and Italy bring their own air conditioning with the Australian Olympic Committee calling its decision to install air conditioning in its athletes' rooms “strategic for high performance” , according to The Guardian.

“We designed these buildings to be comfortable places to live in the summer, in the year 2024 and beyond, and we don't need air conditioning in these buildings because we've oriented the facades so they don't get too busy. alone during the summer, and the facades, the insulation is really efficient,” Yann Krysinski, responsible for the delivery of spaces and infrastructure at Paris 2024, told Reuters.

For interested countries, the Olympics will provide “low-emission mobile cooling units” available for rent, according to a Paris 2024 spokesperson.

The dedication to climate-friendly gaming doesn't seem to extend to the list of sponsors. National Olympic and Paralympic team sponsors include British Gas for Team Great Britain; Hancock Prospecting, a mining company, for the Australian Olympic team; and Reliance Industries Limited, a petrochemical conglomerate, for the Indian Olympic Association.

Climate activists are encouraging athletes to voice their concerns about heat risk and climate change in general.

“One thing I really like sports to do here is to be an alarm bell in this space because of the implications of a two or three degree warmer world on the lives of millions and billions of people,” says Farndale.


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