Paris 2024: how the organizers of the 2024 Olympics plan to deal with a heatwave this summer

Preparing for an event of the magnitude of the Olympic and Paralympic Games can be a source of heatstroke

Paris 2024: how the organizers of the 2024 Olympics plan to deal with a heatwave this summer

Preparing for an event of the magnitude of the Olympic and Paralympic Games can be a source of heatstroke. Often unexpected. But if there is something that the organizers of Paris 2024 know that they will probably have to face and manage, it is the significant heat peaks which could accompany the competitions, at the end of July and beginning of August.

“Heat and weather conditions in general are among the risks that have been well identified since the application phase,” confirms Lambis Konstantinidis, executive director of planning and coordination within Cojop. In the worst-case scenario, temperatures in the Paris region could exceed the 2003 record by around 4°C (35°C for nine days in a row), warned a study published in November 2023 by the journal NPJ Climate and Atmospheric Science.

Faced with the risk of potential “thermal stress” – to use the term used by the authors of this study – Cojop worked to develop different scenarios and different measures. He did this with the various stakeholders at the national level (Météo France, in particular) and internationally (International Olympic Committee, national Olympic committees and sports federations).

Two meetings per day with Météo France

This summer, Paris 2024 will rely on close collaboration with Météo France, whose teams will be present from July at its headquarters in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis). “Meetings will take place twice a day and this will make it possible to have, ten days before an event, credible elements of forecasting and therefore to anticipate possible modifications,” explains Lambis Konstantinidis.

For the latter, there would be “no particular concerns to have about the holding of the tests”. Whether during the Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 or those in Tokyo in 2021, for which this question of heat had already arisen, he adds that “there has been no complete cancellation of events but [that] we had to anticipate or delay certain trials.” In Tokyo, for example, the women's marathon was brought forward due to the high temperatures.

This is also what could happen this summer. Cojop has established temperature thresholds with each international sports federation – some, however, have considered that they would do without. He also reflected with them on the impacts that climatic conditions could have on the competitions. This has led, for example, to scheduling road races in the morning or the events planned in the Grand Palais in the morning or evening to reduce the greenhouse effect of the building's glass roof.

Adjustments may be made based on forecasts established a few days before the competitions. “Sport by sport, we will ask ourselves if we continue as planned, if we should change the schedules or if the risk of heat is high, if we should find another slot,” explains Lambis Konstantinidis.

Notifications sent to viewers

As far as spectators are concerned, the system planned by Paris 2024 will be based both on upstream information and on the implementation of specific resources on the sites. Each ticket holder will thus be provided with a “guide to good practices”, depending on the site to be visited.

“Each spectator will receive, depending on the weather forecast, a notification of Paris 2024 with a reminder of what to do (think about hydration, sunscreen, etc.) and, depending on the site where they will go, a information on expected temperatures if they are likely to be high,” explains Konstantinidis. The drafting of these messages is being prepared with the various stakeholders who will also be required to communicate on the subject (such as transport) in order to ensure their consistency.

Around the sites, the organizers plan to install “shaded areas” as well as water fountains (one for 300 people). This system could be expanded in the event of a rise in temperature “in order to make waiting more comfortable”. Lambis Konstantinidis also explains that the entry flow of spectators can be adapted so that “they are not too exposed”.

If the indoor tests will take place in air-conditioned enclosures, those planned outdoors will require special means to cope with the heat. “We will have hydration capabilities, as well as cooled spaces, to catch your breath, rest, hydrate,” says Mr. Konstantinidis. And added: “There will be responses adapted to everyone’s needs and exposures. »