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Paris 2024 – athletes brace themselves for sweltering temperatures

Paris 2024 – athletes brace themselves for sweltering temperatures

By Anders Lorenzen

It is less than a month to go before the 2024 Olympic Games kicks off on the 26th of July in Paris, France. There is increasing concern amongst athletes that they could again be exposed to extreme heat as was the case at the previous Games in 2021 in Tokyo..

As climate models predict there is an upward trend, temperatures are getting warmer. And the debate about the weather conditions in which athletes will be asked to compete will only heat up.

The long-term view for Paris this summer is still uncertain.  In its early assessment, the national French forecaster Meteo-France estimates that July will be warmer than normal. Whether it will be similar to the Tokyo experience, only time can tell.

The organisers of Paris 2024 have pledged it will be the greenest Games ever, meaning that, for instance, there will be no air conditioning in the athletes’ rooms. 

This might well impact athletes’ ability to perform at their highest level and means they will need to give extra consideration to their body temperatures as they train, recover and compete.

Technology to the rescue

During 2024 there will be several technologies on display, that can help with the probable heat impacts. And, as climate adaptation becomes more critical, this could be a catalyst for future events…

For instance, the Paris 2024 organisers are planning to use a water-cooling system under the Athletes Village, much like the one that helped the Louvre Museum cope with the sweltering heat that broke records last year. This system would keep temperatures in check for the Olympians and Paralympians who stay there.

Technologies such as CoolMitt were developed by researchers at Stanford University, California, US. It is a device worn like a mitten on the hand that helps extract heat while cooling the blood which is circulated back to the heart and to the athlete’s muscles. The palm rests on a water-defused pad set to 10-12 degrees C and draws the heat out while cooling the athletes’ blood before reaching vasoconstriction.

The evolution in sports technology and nutrition has increased a lot in recent years, so expect this to be extended into dealing with extreme heat.  While we don’t know who will collect the most medals at the Games, we know with certainty that the one thing that will continue to increase is the temperature.

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