Competing nations to bring portable air conditioning units despite Olympics’ strict AC-free “carbon footprint-reducing” rule

Portable air conditioning (AC) systems were ordered and are going to be delivered to the dorms in the Olympics 2024’s Athlete’s Village in Paris despite organizers’ drive to make the global sports event the “most sustainable” and “greenest” sports event ever.

Paris organizers were proud of what they called “their boldest measure” of supposedly not installing air conditioning in the rooms where the athletes will be sleeping. They claimed that other cooling measures would be implemented during the said affair that will run from July 26 to Aug. 11. They assured athletes that they wouldn’t need it as the rooms will draw water from underground. The buildings are also said to be oriented so they get little direct sun.

“This village was designed to avoid the need for air conditioning, even in very, very high temperatures, to maintain comfortable temperatures,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said back in March. “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. 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.”

But participating nations, who are mostly also “green deal” pushers, are more worried about what potentially could be the world’s hottest year on record. “They care about environmental aims but not if it risks the comfort of their athletes,” who are expected to perform at their highest level during games, the Washington Post’s Chico Harlan wrote.

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Some of the participants are used to temperatures cooler than what the dorms might provide and raised concerns to their national Olympic committees. “It’s a high-performance environment,” said Strath Gordon, the chief of public affairs for the Olympic committee of Australia, one of the countries opting for the ACs.

Meanwhile, WaPo took the liberty to inquire with 20 of the largest competing nations to know which ones are wheeling in their own AC systems. Among the eight that responded, all said they were planning to use portable ACs in their athletes’ rooms. Others with air-conditioning plans include the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Italy, and to a limited degree, Germany, which said that ACs will be used for participants in just a handful of sports. If Japan, which did not respond to the inquiry, goes through with its own air-conditioning plans, then every Group of Seven country aside from the host will be using their own units.

Greece, Denmark and Australia, which accounted for more than a quarter of the total (3,000) athletes at the previous Olympics in Tokyo, said they are also having AC units shipped to the Athlete’s Village. “We will bring them and we will take them back to Greece,” said Alexandra Palli, president of the Greek Olympic Committee for environmental sustainability. She said her country was responding to the wishes of its athletes. “They need support. Because what they do is very difficult anyway.”

China, which is one of the largest delegations, has not responded to WaPo’s inquiries. The Asian nation reportedly has an exceptionally fast growth rate of domestic AC usage.

ACs listed as “ADD-ON” in the menu of services for an added cost

Paris organizers had realized even a year ago that air-conditioning could become a “controversial” subject. So, officials included portable air-conditioning units on what is called a “rate card,” a menu of add-ons and accessories that visiting countries could purchase to spruce up their dorms and offices.

With this, many athletes might be sleeping at different temperatures as not all delegations come from wealthy nations and can afford the “extra” services. “We don’t have deep pockets,” said Donald Rukare, a lawyer who is president of the Uganda Olympic Committee. Rukare mentioned a sweltering international sports competition in Turkey a few years ago, where athletes stayed in rooms without air-conditioning. Some federations shipped in portable units; Uganda did not. “Because we didn’t have the money,” he said.

Paris organizers are still convincing the delegates that the cooling methods already in place, most notably a geothermal system of in-floor cooling pipes would work sufficiently. Officials emphasized that rooms would be at least six degrees C (11 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than outside temperatures. They described running simulations of heat waves. The director of the Olympic and Paralympic Villages stressed that athletes “will be able to rest correctly.”

“The bid to forgo air-conditioning was just a tiny part of the overall Paris plan to reduce the footprint of a massive event. But it is highly symbolic, as it has forced participating countries to consider whether they want to participate in a sustainability experiment – abandoning conventional, energy-intensive privileges in the name of green goals,” Harlan said in the WaPo article. “The collective decision of some of the largest countries also raises questions about equality: Portable air-conditioning represents a cost that some delegations from poorer countries might not be able to afford, meaning athletes in the same Olympic Village might be sleeping at different temperatures.” (Related: International Olympic Committee prepares for AI integration in 2024 Paris Olympics.)

Head over to to read more stories on governments’ tyrannical moves in implementing their green measures.

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