The buzz surrounding the location of next year's Olympic surfing competition has finally found its conclusion. After weeks of debates and speculations regarding a potential change in venue due to environmental concerns, the regional president has confirmed that the surfing event for the Paris 2024 Olympics will proceed as initially planned in French Polynesia.
Moetai Brotherson, the President of French Polynesia, recently disclosed to AFP that an agreement had been reached to host the competition in Teahupo'o on the Pacific Island of Tahiti. This decision, reached in consultation with environmental groups, aims to address concerns while honoring the original plan for the event.
The deliberations emerged due to worries about the suitability of the island as a venue for the surfing competitions. An incident involving a construction barge, intended for a new judging tower installation reaching 46 feet in height, caused damage to the beach's corals during trials, escalating tensions.
Surfing activists rallied against the construction of the aluminum tower and offered some alternatives. One of these is judging the competition from the beach using drone technology, cameras on boats, and other equipment.
This option has been looked into according to Paris 2024 president Tony Estanguet but was discarded for several reasons:
●Judging the event will have to be done from a distance of 900 meters
●Fairness will be compromised given the distance from the judge to the surfers
●Surfing events have always been judged from a tower
There were also suggestions to relocate the events to France's Atlantic coast, home to renowned surf beaches like Biarritz. However, France's Minister of Sports, Amelie Oudea-Castera, dismissed the idea, emphasizing that there was no alternative plan despite acknowledging their lack of preparation.
To address concerns, President Brotherson presented a phased plan for constructing the new tower, ensuring completion by May 13. A World Surf League event, serving as an Olympics dress rehearsal, will validate the construction's timeline for the premier sporting event.
Scheduled for the European summer, from July 27 to 30, the Surfing events in French Polynesia will feature categories for both men and women. This marks the second time Surfing will be included as an Olympic sport after its successful debut in Tokyo 2020.
French Polynesia, a group of 118 South Pacific islands administratively linked to France, stands firm as the picturesque backdrop for this thrilling sporting spectacle. Despite challenges and debates, the commitment to honor the original plan in consultation with environmental associations reflects a balance between sportsmanship and ecological mindfulness.
Which countries will participate in the 2024 Olympic surfing events in Paris?
The surfing program will showcase a total of 48 surfers, which is eight surfers more than Tokyo 2020. There will be 24 male and 24 surfers who will compete in the shortboard event.
The countries that qualified include:
The qualifying rounds involved various competitions, such as the 2023 WSL Championship Tour and the 2023 ISA World Surfing Games.
For this year’s competition, surfers will have to battle some of the biggest waves in the world. The Teahupo'o village on the southern shore of Tahiti generates huge waves because it gets powerful swells. This creates the kind of atmosphere every surfer dream of.