Paris 2024: the Polynesian president plans to move the surfing events from the Teahupoo site

This is a position that risks causing a lot of noise

Paris 2024: the Polynesian president plans to move the surfing events from the Teahupoo site

This is a position that risks causing a lot of noise. Tuesday, November 7, the President of French Polynesia, Moetai Brotherson, told a journalist from Agence-France-Presse that he was considering moving the surfing event of the 2024 Olympic Games to a spot other than the emblematic Teahupoo site . A few months earlier, the new elected president, an independentist, had recalled his wish to see the Games take place in Tahiti, "because it is here that surfing was born, not elsewhere", he then argued.

But the growing mobilization of environmentalists, surfers and residents of the village of Teahupoo against the construction of an aluminum judges' tower, built in the water in the middle of the lagoon especially for the Olympics event, pushed Mr. Brotherson to change his opinion. According to them, the installation could degrade the seabed and harm the biodiversity of the site.

The Polynesian president, who shares these fears, rules out the use of the aluminum tower and is now considering organizing the event in Taharuu, a less renowned but easier to access site, on the west coast of Tahiti.

“It’s a beach break, equipped with all the infrastructure on land,” detailed Mr. Brotherson who, on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum, in Rarotonga (Cook Islands), recalled that this spot had already been considered . “This would have allowed us to avoid the problems we have today. At the time this was not possible. Given the issues and the protest today, perhaps we can revise this option. »

Danger to coral

The planned tower, 14 meters high, should have three floors, an air-conditioned technical room for Internet servers powered by an underwater cable, but also toilets with a drainage system connected to a pipe. Already built, it has not yet been installed on site. The cost of the project is estimated at nearly 4.4 million euros. “I don’t see where we could get the barge [of the drill] through (…) without exploding coral,” explained Mr. Brotherson, who recently welcomed the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and her deputy for sports , Pierre Rabadan, on the sidelines of the Ile-de-France councilor's trip to Polynesia.

Local surfer Matahi Drollet and Vai Ara o Teahupoo, the association defending the site, are at the origin of a petition which had gathered nearly 150,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

For Mr. Brotherson, the only solution is to approve for the Olympic Games the wooden tower used in the competitions of the world surfing circuit in Teahupoo. The Games organizing committee (Cojop), for its part, justifies the aluminum tower project by putting forward safety reasons, the wooden tower (13.50 m) no longer being up to standard.

A technical team is working on this hypothesis and must make a decision on November 15. According to the President of French Polynesia, it will also be necessary to determine whether the deadlines for calls for tenders and compliance are tenable.

When contacted, Cojop reiterated its desire to “find a solution to be able to organize the Olympic surfing events on the Teahupoo site in the best conditions”. Reflections and studies will continue in the coming weeks, according to the organizer. “With all stakeholders, the Polynesian government in particular, Paris 2024 remains attentive to all solutions to continue improving the project. » But there is no question for Cojop of leaving the legendary Teahupoo site.