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Paris Just Says ‘Non’ to Single-use Plastics at Summer Olympics

If you’re planning on going to Paris for the Summer Olympics, first, why? Don’t get me wrong — Paris is my favorite place in the world — but the crowds and prices will be intolerable. If you’re determined to brave the masses and cough up beaucoup bucks for a shoebox-sized hotel room, though, leave your plastic water bottle at home.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has banned single-use plastics from the Olympics. “We have decided to make the Olympic Games the first major event without single-use plastics,” she said at a press conference in May 2023, as reported by ESPN.

700 soda and water fountains . . .

Spectators bearing plastic bottles will not be admitted to competition sites. Olympics sponsor Coca-Cola will serve beverages in re-usable glass bottles, and 700 water and soda fountains will be installed throughout the spectator areas and athletes’ village. But wait, there’s more: Re-usable cups exclusively will be used for all refreshments. If all else fails and “when operational conditions prevent the installation of fountains,” recycled plastic bottles may be used, Coca-Cola and the Olympic Games organizing committee said, according to a recent article in French daily Le Monde.

. . . and 18 million drinks served.

“The aim is to distribute some 18 million drinks, half of them free of charge, to athletes and accredited guests. However, the US company was careful not to specify that almost half of these drinks will come in plastic bottles,” reports Le Monde. A French environmental activist group apparently got hold of a confidential memo, verified by Le Monde, that said three-quarters of the nine million drinks at the games will come from plastic bottles but the drinks will be served in so-called eco-cups. Accusations of greenwashing poured forth.

Related:Coca-Cola Is Not the ‘World’s Biggest Known Plastic Polluter’

Responding to the newspaper, Coca-Cola and the organizing committee said that the plastic bottles would be made from recycled PET and would not be distributed to spectators. Rather, the bottles would be “captured at source” and recycled. This may come as a shock, but les activistes were not impressed.

Notable exception to single-use bottle ban.

But there is a compelling reason to use sealed, single-use bottles in competitions and training, and Olympics committees from the United States, Great Britain, South Africa, and Australia have requested as much, according to Le Monde. The reason is to prevent “sabotage doping,” the deliberate introduction of doping substances to disqualify an athlete. Apparently, that could be a thing.

Randomly, that got me to wondering if Russia will be part of the competition this year. The answer is no . . . and yes. Russian nationals can compete but as individual, “neutral” athletes, meaning without flags, national anthems, or emblems. Or, one hopes, dirty tricks.

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