Olympics: ‘Lack of air-conditioning in Village not a concern for now’

Olympics: ‘Lack of air-conditioning in Village not a concern for now’

Mumbai: The Paris Olympics-bound Indian contingent, as of now, has no major concerns around the lack of air-conditioning inside the Games Village amid the possibility of rising temperatures during the Olympics in July-August, said Dr. Dinshaw Pardiwala, the Chief Medical Officer who will lead a 13-member team of sports science experts formed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). Pardiwala added that, much to their surprise, most Indian athletes they spoke to did not look at the issue as a worry. The Games run from July 26 to August 11.

Members of the Indian Olympic contingent (IOA)
Members of the Indian Olympic contingent (IOA)

The Games Village will not have air-conditioning due to the Paris organisers’ commitment to a greener Olympics. Europe was gripped by a heat wave around this time last year, and there are reports that similarly high temperatures are likely this year too. It led to several contingents, such as the US and Australia, expressing concern and deciding to carry portable AC units. Earlier this month, Augustin Tran Van Chau, deputy director of the Village, said around “2,500 ACs have been ordered”.

Pardiwala said although the Indian contingent too explored that option, it has no such plans as things stand. The geothermal cooling system inside the Village — it will keep temperatures inside “at least 5-7 degrees Celsius less than the ambient temperatures of between 18-26 degrees” — along with the “availability of fans in the rooms”, he added, should be “quite okay” for Indian athletes.

“It’s (lack of air-conditioning) a global concern. Many contingents felt that that’s not the way our athletes are used to staying, so we’d like that (ACs) to be there,” Pardiwala said on Saturday in a virtual interaction. “A lot of the athletes we spoke to, surprisingly, didn’t have too much of a concern. I thought we must find out, but not many of them had any significant concerns regarding temperature. They said “we’re used to it, and we’re not all the time in air-conditioning ourselves”.”

A few temperature-controlled devices, like cooled mattresses and pillows, were trialled, but Pardiwala said not every athlete was comfortable with it. “So we feel that just the way it is now, is optimum.”

In case, like last year, Paris is struck by a heat wave during the Games that would push temperatures to the mid-30s, IOA and the sports ministry do have “crisis management options” in mind.

“We’re still exploring whether, in case there is suddenly a heat wave two weeks down the line, can we make some emergency arrangements for air-conditioning. Hopefully the need will not arise,” Pardiwala said.

Having a sleep therapist (Dr. Monika Sharma) in his 13-member team will help deal with the vagaries of temperature. The Indian contingent will also have access to sleeping pods — a small chamber with dark and noise-free environment — apart from the recovery room exclusively for the use of Indian athletes 24×7 inside the Village. “Sleeping pods is a tech relatively new to sports recovery, which many other contingents have started using for their athletes,” said Pardiwala.

One sleeping pod will be made available for Indian shooters in Chateauroux, around three hours away from Paris, which will host shooting. For the rest of the facilities and expert services of the IOA team that will be based in the Village in Paris, the 21-strong Indian shooting contingent said it “would like not anyone to interfere with their processes, which is very understandable,” said Pardiwala.

“Right from the beginning they’ve told us that we would not like anyone there; we’re happy the way we are. They said they would just require certain services in case someone lands up with a major injury, which typically in that sport is rare. We will have our nutritionist go there (to the Chateauroux Village) and ensure that all of the nutrition plans are okay. The shooting contingent will be in touch with us, and if anything is required, we will go there and take care of it.”

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