Cool stay for Olympic Games athletes

16,000 athletes and coaches at this summer’s Olympic Games will have a comfortable and cool stay even if summer temperatures soar.

DATE 2023-11-28 AUTHOR Philip Pangalos

The whole world will turn its attention to Athens this summer when the Greek capital hosts the 2004 Olympic Games. And the spectacular sporting and cultural event of the year is guaranteed to be extra special this time as the Games return home to the country that gave birth to the Olympic celebration more than 2,500 years ago and to the city that staged the first modern Games in 1896.

Much of modern day Athens and the surrounding Attica region is undergoing a complete face-lift amid a frenzy of final preparations to ensure that a successful transformation is complete before the Olympic Games begin on August 13 and run on through to the 29th.

A lot of new sports facilities and associated infrastructure projects are nearing completion and a renewed and upgraded transport net work is taking shape to ensure the Games are a success and Athenians are left an Olympic legacy fit for a 21st century European capital. A gleaming new international airport has been built, along with new metro lines and upgrades of old lines and stations, while an athletes’ village stands where olives recently grew and hundreds of kilometres of roads and rail have been built or upgraded.

“Athletes First” philosophy

At the heart of Greece’s multibillion Euro Olympic preparations is the Olympic Village at the foot of Mt. Parnitha, some 23 km north of Athens, where more than 16,000 athletes and their coaches will stay in purpose-built apartments during this summer’s Games.

The 2,292 new homes have been designed to provide maximum comfort and relaxation during the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games for handicapped participants which follow in September, as well as serving as homes for the thousands of families that will live there after the Olympics are over.

“A safe environment that is convenient, stress-free, friendly and respectful of multiculturalism will be provided. All actions will be guided by an “Athletes First” philosophy where residents can enjoy the Greek spirit of hospitality with an extensive workforce that will cater to all residents’ needs on a 24-hour basis,” according to the Games’ organizers description of the Village.

The main OAKA Olympic stadium complex, where the opening and closing ceremonies will take place, and which will also host athletics, swimming, cycling and tennis, will be only 15 minutes from the Olympic Village once a new connecting road is completed, according to the Games’ organizers.

A Sports Complex of more than 5,000 square metres with an Olympic size swimming pool, a jogging track, four tennis courts and state of the art gym facilities will be made available to all residents. The Olympic Village is keen to introduce an open-air cinema in the evening hours under the stars. There will be a café which will also operate as a dance club with live entertainment in evening hours. Among the other features offered to residents will be games rooms, Internet cafes and an online Village daily newspaper.

Air conditioner for each apartment

The Athens Games will take place in the middle of the Greek summer when soaring temperatures can top 40 degrees Celsius in daytime if a heat wave occurs and approach 30 degrees Celsius at night on some balmy nights. So staying cool and comfortable at night will be of primary importance for athletes to be properly rested and at their best.

The Olympic Village complex will be home for 10,500 athletes and 4,500 team officials, as well as trainers, doctors and associated staff during the Games. It will also provide living facilities featuring logistics centres, medical clinics, restaurants, places of religious worship and parks.

For maximum comfort, safety and flexibility each and every apartment will have its own air conditioner supplied by four important companies; Carrier and Aermec in Italy, Fyrogenis in Greece and Mc-Quay in Malaysia. An Alfa Laval brazed heat exchanger is an integrated part of each air conditioner. In other words, Alfa Laval managed to take the complete orders from all four suppliers.

“Typically, buildings in the village comprise four to eight flats,” said Yiannis Vafias, sales director of the Greek air conditioning, heating and solar energy systems company Fyrogenis SA, one of the contractors that supplied the Olympic Village.

Maximum comfort and independence

“The unique aspect of this project is that each and every apartment will have an independent air conditioning system consisting of a water chiller for cooling and natural gas boiler for heating,” Vafias said, perched on the roof of one of the new residential buildings after climbing through a central access point that allows easy servicing in each building.

Alfa Laval and Fyrogenis have worked together for more than a decade. High quality and reliability, as well as competitive pricing, made Fyrogenis choose Alfa Laval components for about 750 chillers to the Olympic Village.

John Gregoriadis, Comfort & Refrigeration (HVACR) and OEM manager for Alfa Laval in Greece, said that for his company the Olympic Village order was one of its biggest single residential projects in Greece, providing a very good reference for future projects.

“Either cooling or heating is obtained through a fan coil device on the ceiling of every room, while each room has its own temperature regulator so that the temperature in every room can be set according to every individual’s own needs” Gregoriadis said. “Maximum comfort and independence with minimum negative effect on the environment was the basis of the design specifications of the air conditioning system.”

After the Olympic and Paralympic Games in August and September 2004, the Village will provide homes to about 10,000 people in accordance with current Greek housing programmes, with 14 different types of homes creating architectural variety and covering specialised needs. School facilities are also planned.

The site will be converted to public housing owned by the Workers’ Housing Organization (OEK), which has been assigned overall responsibility for construction of the village.

Four Olympic Village key suppliers

Fyrogenis, the biggest HVAC equipment manufacturer in Greece, supplied nearly 40 per cent of all the Olympic Village units including 750 chillers as well as fan coils and natural gas boilers.

“The Olympic Village contract was very important for us, partly because of its high profile and partly because it was our biggest ever order for small chillers,” said Mihalis Koutzis, development manager for Fyrogenis. “We have focused on good quality and flexibility, and we will offer service around the clock during the Olympic and Paralympic Games for full security.”

Italian air conditioning company Aermec supplied some 500 chillers and 3,500 fan coils to the Olympic Village. Aermec, based in Verona, Italy is a key player in the fan coil business, with high technical knowledge and presence on all European markets and in the Middle East.

“The choice of Aermec's products is the result of thorough technical investigation which led to optimization of the components,” said Luigi Zucchi, sales director at Aermec. “Our co-operation with key suppliers like Alfa Laval allowed us to achieve brilliant results in terms of efficiency.”

Carrier S.p.A in Italy is an affiliate of Carrier Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of air conditioning, heating and refrigeration equipment for commercial, residential and transportation applications. Carrier, with headquarters in the USA and almost 40,000 employees worldwide, is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation. Carrier S.p.A in Italy is the largest company in Europe for engineering, production and sales of air conditioning systems.

Finally, McQuay International, with headquarters in Minneapolis, USA, is a worldwide supplier of commercial, industrial and institutional heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment. McQuay International is an affiliate of the Hong Leong Group Malaysia, one of the country’s largest conglomerates.