BARCELONA, Spain (AP)-Want to know what's hotter than a ticket to see the basketball
final at the summer Olympics? Barcelona itself.
It's sweltering. With temperatures around 32 Celcius (90 Fahrenheit) and humidity
around 85 percent, a walk to the bus is a sweaty enterprise. Pity the souls who try
to run 42 kilometers come the marathon.
Barcelona shelled out U.S. $8 billion getting dressed up for the summer games, but
barely a peseta went to air conditioner salesmen. Very few of the apartments at the
Olympic villages for the thousands of athletes and journalists have refrigerated
air. As for the expected 400,000 spectators, those who can afford upwards of U.S.
$400 daily can get an air conditioned hotel room.
There is one group of athletes who don't have to contend with the hot, humid conditions
in their sleep: the much-touted U.S. men's basketball team. The "dream team"
of NBA all-stars, only one of which doesn't make at least U.S. $1 million a year,
will be staying at a luxury hotel, exclusively theirs.
Track superstars Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell also have private luxury accommodations,
but most athletes are housed in the more spartan Olympic village apartments, where
they are doubled and tripled up in tiny bedrooms that turn to saunas as the sun rises.
Many could afford better, but prefer Olympic camaraderie to creature comfort.
Some media and Olympic organizations sought to install air conditioning in their
villages at their own expense, but Barcelona officials wouldn't allow it. Though
the buildings are new, the electrical wiring wasn't designed to handle the extra
So most members of the Olympic family have resorted to the next best thing-electric
table-top fans, which, like everything else in Barcelona, are selling for inflated
prices-U.S. $50 to $80.