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At least 20 French cities are protesting the 2024 Paris Olympic Games sponsor Airbnb. The protestors believe that Airbnb is forcing renters from properties for the lucrative short-term stay benefits to owners. Apparently, entire neighbourhoods have no permanent residents.

Franck Rolland, a Saint-Malo activist who leads the protest group, during a news conference said, “This is destruction, entire neighbourhoods are being emptied.”

Airbnb provides an online market for short and long-term rentals. The company first started sponsoring the Olympic Games for the 2020 Tokyo event. The sponsorship agreement goes to 2028 and is valued at $500 million USD.

Currently, Airbnb has a French inventory of up to 800,000 rentals, w ith over 22,000 in Paris. The number is expected to grow to over 100,000 toward the Olympic Games in the summer of 2024.

Each Olympic Games since 1906 have experienced boycotts, protests and bans. The Games are not meant to be political, but governments and athletes have used the quadrennial event as a political tool since the beginning of the modern Olympic Games. The protests started with Irish Triple Jump athlete Pete O’Connor in 1906. He protested being considered a British competitor, by climbing the Olympic flagpole with an Irish flag after winning the gold medal. 

The latest politically-oriented event was the ban of Russia due to systematic doping, which carried over to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games that took place in 2021. Every Games since has been a dais for voicing a political message or protest.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is a critic of Airbnb. She also is a critic of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

When Airbnb’s sponsorship agreement with the IOC was signed, Hidalgo told IOC president Thomas Bach to “alert him of the risks and consequences” of the deal and assure him of her “absolute determination to make sure regulations relating to rental platforms are reinforced.”

Paris has imposed several conditions that have limited Airbnb’s ability to dominate smaller short-term rental companies.

The regulations include, anyone wanting to rent the property out for more than 120 days must register as a business.

Property owners are restricted to renting their homes for only a maximum of 120 days per year.

Non-resident owners must convert a commercial property into a residential one to qualify.

Apparently, the going rental rate during the Olympics is very high despite the tightening of the rules. So, the protests continue.

And according to Forbes Magazine, Airbnb is fighting New York City which the company claims is enacting a “de facto ban” on home-sharing.

Airbnb filed a lawsuit against New York City that threatens $85 million in annual revenue for the home-sharing platform.

Set to go into effect next month, New York City Local Law 18 requires city residents who want to rent out a room or apartment to register first with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) and attest that they will comply with what Airbnb calls “the maze of complex regulations in different legal codes governing short-term rentals.” Those who skirt the law are subject to a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation.