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French hotels threaten protest over Airbnb Olympics deal

(Image credit: Paris 2024)

French hotel owners have warned they will stop cooperating with planning for the Paris 2024 Olympics in protest at the new partnership between the International Olympic Committee and Airbnb.

French hoteliers have long opposed Airbnb, the short-term home rental platform, because they consider it to be unfairly disrupting their businesses by taking advantage of a regulatory loophole. Airbnb can undercut their prices because those sharing homes on the platform do not have to comply with the extensive regulations that the hotels do.

Channel News Asia reported that the GNI association of independent French hotels said: “Airbnb doesn’t play by the rules, and must be disqualified.” The organisation said it would make an official complaint to the IOC and to the Paris 2024 organising committee.

“Hotels are going to suspend their participation in the organisation of the 2024 Games,” said Laurent Duc of the UMIH hotel trade group.

UMIH and the GCN group of hotel chains also said: “It is outrageous to make this company, which spurs deregulation in countries around the world, a global partner of the IOC.”

UMIH president Roland Heguy said to AFP: “Where is the morality? We worked since the beginning on this candidacy with the Paris 2024 organising committee.”

Airbnb responded to the criticisms in a statement yesterday, noting that it had been a partner for the Rio 2016 and Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, and saying “this historic accord aims to allow host cities to welcome the Games in a more local, authentic and sustainable manner”. The company said its “values are in line with those of the Olympic movement”.

Earlier this week, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo warned the IOC of the risks attached to the Airbnb deal, pointing to the company’s dodging of regulations and contribution to rent rises and housing shortages in the city.

Airbnb was on Monday unveiled as a Worldwide Olympic Partner in the exclusive category of ‘Unique Accommodation Products and Unique Experiences Services’ and in a deal running until 2028.