Too hot for the Olympics? Paris 2024 organisers are keeping a close eye on Europe's heatwave

Eiffel Tower is seen in the background as Paris holds a technical test for boats as part of preparations for the river parade on the Seine for the opening ceremony.
Eiffel Tower is seen in the background as Paris holds a technical test for boats as part of preparations for the river parade on the Seine for the opening ceremony. Copyright REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
By Euronews Green with Reuters
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France has escaped the worst of the searing heat this summer but organisers are remaining "very vigilant" about temperature forecasts.


Organisers of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games are paying close attention to long-term weather models, chief Tony Estanguet said on Tuesday (18 July). 

Almost exactly a year away from the start of the games, swathes of Europe are being baked again in near-record temperatures.

The heatwave engulfing the northern hemisphere is set to intensify this week, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said. Temperatures in the Mediterranean, North America, Asia and North Africa are expected to be above 40 Celsius for a number of days.

"We are remaining very, very vigilant on temperature forecasts," Estanguet, a three-time Olympic Champion and President of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee said.

How is climate change impacting sport?

The blistering temperatures across southern and eastern European have coincided with wildfires from Greece to the Swiss Alps and deadly flooding in India and South Korea, putting a renewed focus on climate change risks.

The International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said the consequences of climate change impacted the organisation of sport worldwide.

"A special focus is winter sport ... because there it is most obvious already, but it also applies to summer sport," Bach told reporters during a briefing.

The IOC was sharing past lessons learned with the Paris 2024 organising committee, Bach added.

"In Tokyo, it's very, very humid. The heat mitigation measures worked well," he said.

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
The logos of the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics are pictured on the building of the Organising Committee headquarters.REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Paris is vulnerable during heatwaves

Temperature records could be broken in the days ahead, the WMO has said. The previous European high was 48.8C reached in Sicily in August 2021. 

France hit an all-time high of 46C in 2019 and recorded its hottest July on record last summer when wildfires raged as drought parched the country. The country has escaped the worst of the searing temperatures so far this summer. 

The 2024 Games will mostly be held in and around Paris, though some events will take place further from the capital, including soccer at some southern venues and sailing in the Mediterranean waters off Marseille. 

The capital city is the most vulnerable in Europe when it comes to heatwaves according to a recent article from The Lancet journal. Its population faces the highest risk of heatwave-related deaths across all age groups. 

By 2050, Paris could reach temperatures of up to 50°C.

Will sporting events have to move due to the heat?

A contingency plan is in place to adjust schedules in the case of extreme heat but there are no plans to change any locations, a spokesperson for Paris 2024 told Reuters.

"I can't imagine a scenario where sailing wouldn't take place in Marseille," the spokesperson said, adding that a sailing test took place during the heat last week without issue.

Prolonged exposure to heat can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke, which can be fatal.

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