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Paris free to act on Airbnb after concerns over deal - IOC

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By Reuters
Paris free to act on Airbnb after concerns over deal - IOC
FILE PHOTO: Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) attends a new conference after an Executive Board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse   -   Copyright  DENIS BALIBOUSE(Reuters)
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By Karolos Grohmann

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – Paris, host of the 2024 Olympics, is free to take any action in relation to Airbnb, after the city’s mayor Anne Hidalgo took issue with a deal between the rental company and the International Olympic Committee, IOC President Thomas Bach said on Thursday.

Hidalgo wrote to Bach last month in response to a nine-year deal between the San Fransisco-headquartered company and the IOC under which Airbnb Inc. will help provide accommodation for five Olympics and Paralympics events.

In her letter Hidalgo, who had co-signed the hosting contract for the 2024 Olympics along with Bach in 2017, had warned of the “risks and consequences” of the deal that would create shortages of housing in the capital and a sharp rise in prices.

Hidalgo later also pledged to hold a referendum in relation to the company’s operation in Paris after the municipal elections in March.

Bach said he had since responded to the mayor, saying all the IOC’s sponsors would abide by local laws.

“The situation is clear. We expressed in this letter that of course all our top partners are respecting the rules and regulations of the host country and the host city,” Bach told reporters.

“And that with this agreement with Airbnb this did not change. So France and Paris are free to take their legislative steps if they deem this as appropriate.

“We have explained this agreement is complementary to the offer of accommodation in hotels — the more traditional accommodation. We see it as a great addition.”

Airbnb has grown rapidly to become one of the major players in room rental.

Yet it has faced a backlash in some cities, where local politicians say it can push up prices and turn once-vibrant city neighbourhoods into dormitories where many of the properties are turned over to short-term rentals.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Toby Davis)

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