Paris 2024 chooses Tahiti as site for Olympic surfing events
The organisers of the 2024 Paris Olympics have chosen Tahiti as the site for surfing events, arguing that the waves are more dependable than the French coast, despite being more than 15,000 kilometres from the host city.
The Paris 2024 Executive Board chose the South Pacific island ahead of four other bidders on France’s Atlantic Ocean coast - Biarritz Pays Basque, Lacanau-Bordeaux Métropole, La Torche and Hossegor-Seignosse-Capbreton - to stage surfing at the Olympic Games in less than five years' time.
If approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board, it would be the furthest distance between two Olympic competitions being held as part of the same Games in IOC history.
In a statement, Paris 2024 organisers advised that the Tahiti location was backed by the International Surfing Association (ISA) and that the location "particularly stood out because of the exceptional competition conditions it offers athletes".
The plan indicates that temporary modular houses would form the Athletes' Village for surfers competing in Tahiti - a 23-hour flight from Paris - if the plan is approved.
Paris 2024 revealed these would be dismantled after the competition and rebuilt in Tahiti and the islands as social housing.
Last week's decision was widely expected after the South Pacific island emerged as the leading contender prior to a meeting of the IOC Executive Board.
However, IOC President Thomas Bach seemed to cast doubt on the possibility of surfing at Paris 2024 taking place in Tahiti when he claimed the organisation preferred a venue "closest to the centre of the Games" earlier this year.
But Paris 2024 claim Tahiti - the largest island in French Polynesia, a ‘collectivity’ of the French Republic, and described by organisers as "one of the cradles of surfing" - hosting an Olympic event will "showcase the wealth and diversity of France and its culture to be found outside the continent".
The Organising Committee added “it will allow Paris 2024 to resonate all the way to the heart of the Pacific Ocean and organise sporting and popular celebrations day and night during the Games.”
Paris 2024 also praised the "optimal sporting conditions that are both fair and selective" in Tahiti, which organisers claim is "better situated to guarantee" competitive and challenging waves for athletes.
Surfing at the 2024 Games would be held in the middle of Tahiti’s high surf season and would ensure the Olympic competition takes place over a single week.
All 48 surfers would have the opportunity to spend the second week of the Games in the Olympic Village in Paris and participate in the Closing Ceremony.
ISA President Fernando Aguerre advised “ultimately, our commitment is to the athletes and the sport and we have no doubt that Teahupo’o will offer an amazing platform for the world's best athletes to shine.
"I'm totally convinced we can stage a fantastic Olympic Surfing event in Tahiti that builds on the success and legacy of our debut at Tokyo 2020, inspires the world and continues to celebrate our sport's unique value and culture on a global stage."
Paris 2024 also confirmed a 35,000-seater stadium will be constructed at the city’s famous Place de la Concorde with the venue likely to play host to as many as five urban sports or disciplines, including sport climbing, breakdancing and skateboarding.
Images: Surfing in Tahiti (top, courtesy of Red Bull) and Paris 2024's plans for an urban sports stadium in the city's Place de la Concorde (below, courtesy of Paris 2024).
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