Belgium’s Olympic athletes can drive three hours to the Paris Olympic Games, if they wish. An ambitious Belgian — perhaps cycling silver medalist Wout van Aert — could even bike to the Olympic Village in a breezy 16 hours.

For Olympians from New Zealand, however, the trek is 70 times more intense. Kiwis will travel over 11,500 miles to Paris, compared to just under 165 miles for the Belgians, according to a study analyzing flight distance data for participating nations.

A flight from New Zealand’s Auckland Airport to the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport can take well over a full day. The average flight from New Zealand to Europe takes 33 hours and 37 minutes.

Luxembourg, Andorra, Switzerland and The Netherlands join Belgium on the quick-trip list, all measuring in at under 300 miles.

Country Airport Code Miles From Paris
Belgium BRU 163.98
Luxembourg LUX 181.62
Andorra BCN 239.26
Switzerland GVA 254.83
Netherlands AMS 267.26

Meanwhile, Australia, the Cook Islands and Fiji are all in the five-figure category, over 10,000 miles away.

As Australia’s defending pole vault world champion Nina Kennedy noted, athletes from Oceania are pros at the long trips.

“For us Aussies, we’ve always had to go to Europe to compete,” Kennedy said. “I’ve been doing this for quite a few years now. Europe is a long flight, but I feel quite used to it. I've just developed strategies along the way for jet lag.”

Country Airport Code Miles From Paris
New Zealand AKL 11,523.55
Australia SYD 10,553
Cook Islands RAR 10,287.53
Fiji NAN 10,273.46

U.S. athletes face a trip of just over 3,600 miles, on average, though the number varies depending on the departing airport.

To combat jet lag, many athletes are traveling to Europe well in advance of the Opening Ceremony on July 26. Some members of Team Canada, for example, are stationed in suburban Rome already to shake off jet lag and stay sharp for the Olympics.

“We’re doing a camp here to adjust to the time zone,” six-time Olympic medalist Andre De Grasse of Canada said. “For the Olympics, you’re only allowed to come in three or four days before your competition, so we wanted to just adjust a little bit quicker.”

Regardless of the distances, athletes can hope (and reasonably expect) their trips to be smoother than that of the Fiji Olympic Team. Fifty-one Fijians traveled to the pandemic-impacted Tokyo Games on cargo planes, since flights from Fiji were grounded due to COVID-19. Those athletes were accompanied on their Olympic flight by tons of frozen fish bound for Tokyo.