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Airbnb incurs Paris wrath over Olympics partnership

International News from World: Airbnb became a leading partner of the Olympics in a nine-year deal announced Monday that drew strong criticism from Paris, host of the 2024 summer Games.

In the deal unveiled in London, the home rental platform became a “Top” International Olympic Committee (IOC) partner, joining titans including Coca Cola and Visa on the highest sponsorship level.

But in a letter sent last week and seen by AFP on Monday, the mayor of Paris warned IOC head Thomas Bach about the “risks” of the deal.

The Socialist Anne Hidalgo, who is up for re-election in 2020, vowed her “total determination” to tighten rules on tourist rentals in the French capital, which is also one of Airbnb’s biggest markets.

“By removing a significant number of lodgings from Paris, Airbnb contributes to rising rents and worsens the shortage of apartments on the rental market, at a cost for all Parisians, in particular the middle class,” Hidalgo wrote.

Later Monday Hidalgo’s deputy said the mayor promised “to organise immediately after the elections a referendum” so that Parisians can decide “the conditions for usage by Airbnb” in the French capital.

Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said on Monday that the IOC partnership “will ensure that the Games are the most inclusive, accessible and sustainable yet”.

He confirmed recently announced verification improvements to ensure customers’ safety after a deadly shooting at one of its Californian-listed homes.

The IOC revealed no financial details, but Bach said that the “landmark” deal would help to bring the Olympics into “the digital age”.

He said it “will provide accommodation that will reduce the cost for the Olympic Games organisers and all the stakeholders”.

“It will minimise the need for (new) construction,” Bach said, adding that athletes would continue to stay in the Olympic village.

Airbnb said the deal would result in “hundreds of thousands of new hosts” and offer “Olympian Experiences” for Airbnb guests, such as spending time with an elite athlete.

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