Paris 2024: an NGO asks the IOC to “explore other solutions” for the surfing event

The designated surfing venue for the 2024 Paris Olympics continues to cause a stir

Paris 2024: an NGO asks the IOC to “explore other solutions” for the surfing event

The designated surfing venue for the 2024 Paris Olympics continues to cause a stir. The choice of the Teahupoo wave “does not respect the interests and traditions of the indigenous and local Tahitians who live there,” denounced the NGO Surfrider Foundation on Saturday, December 9. The latter asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) “to explore [other options] that will protect the health and integrity of this unique marine ecosystem”.

For Surfrider Foundation, recent events should push the IOC to find “other solutions, including other competition venues” to replace that of Teahupoo. The latter, chosen in 2020 for its famous wave and transparent waters, has for months been at the heart of tensions between the Polynesian government, the organizers of the Olympic Games and local populations. The replacement of a wooden tower with an aluminum structure for the judges particularly focuses tensions.

During technical tests on December 1, filmed by environmental defense associations, a barge planned for the installation of this new tower broke coral, pushing the Polynesian government to pause the work. The decision was welcomed on Wednesday by the International Surfing Association (ISA).

“The credibility of current construction plans was undermined when an empty construction barge ran aground on the reef during a recent site visit,” believes Surfrider Foundation. The initial project to install an aluminum tower to replace the wooden one – which was no longer up to standard, according to the organizers – had raised strong opposition, with associations believing that it risked degrading the seabed.

“No plan B”, according to Amélie Oudéa-Castéra

In mid-November, the organizers and the Polynesian government therefore revised their copy with a project for a lighter tower in order to “limit environmental damage as much as possible”. The Polynesian government decided to suspend work on the site after the barge test.

“We all regret this test which went poorly last week,” said the president of the Paris 2024 organizing committee, Tony Estanguet, on Thursday. “Today, with the Polynesian government, we are trying to find new technical solutions to carry out this work while respecting the environment,” he explained.

A mea culpa also expressed by Amélie Oudéa-Castéra on Thursday. The sports minister acknowledged that the test had “obviously not been well prepared and [that] it could not be conducted well. Unfortunately, he damaged pieces of coral. This is obviously entirely regrettable.” Ms. Oudéa-Castéra, however, ruled out a relocation of the event.

“No, there is no plan B. We are on this path, which is really the right one, to have a new resized judges’ tower. Talks are intensifying at the local level, and we will have an exchange with the Polynesian authorities over the next week to try to get a good grip on this whole process,” the minister indicated.

On Wednesday, the sites of Lacanau (Gironde) and La Torche (Finistère), former candidates for hosting the surfing events, declared that they were willing to host the event in the event that it could not be held in Tahiti.