One of the world's heaviest waves was today officially confirmed as an Olympic Surfing Venue. Surfers going for gold in 2024 will need to put it on the line at Teahupoo, Tahiti.
The decision to list Teahupoo as the surfing venue for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games was first flagged a year ago by the Games' organizing committee, and it was given a nod of approval by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in March. But this latest, formal announcement means the decision to host Olympic surfing at one of the world's most famous and notorious waves -- located over 15,000km from Paris -- is set in stone.
"We are delighted that the IOC have officially approved the inclusion of surfing in the Paris 2024 Olympics and would like to recognize the hard work of the International Surfing Association for their commitment and work for the global sport of surfing," said WSL CEO Erik Logan. "It's such an incredible opportunity for our sport and particularly for our athletes, who are truly the world's best surfers. Tokyo and Paris will be an amazing platform for them to showcase the sport and grow their profiles on the world stage.
"Surfing is perfect for the new era of the Games and selecting our sport for the Olympic Programme -- with Tahiti as the venue - is testimony to Paris 2024's creative and inclusive spirit," said ISA President Fernando Aguerre. "This decision also aligns with the IOC's wider objective to apply new, innovative approaches to Games hosting."
The move has been wholeheartedly welcomed by the International Surfing Association, the governing body which certifies Olympic surfers, with surfing set to make its Olympic debut at the Summer Games in Japan next year.
"As an athlete there is no greater achievement than competing at the Olympic Games and amongst the surfers there is huge excitement about Paris 2024, especially with Tahiti as the location," said Chair of the ISA Athletes' Commission Justine Dupont. "In surfing, Teahupo'o is a sacred place, rich in history and tradition and without a doubt, one of the most exciting, consistent waves in the world for our sport."
The IOC reportedly had some concerns about the surfing competition taking place so far away from the host city. Four other French surf towns were in the mix, including Hossegor and Biarritz, but the lure of the South Pacific proved too much to resist.
Surfers will compete during the first week of the Games, then have the opportunity to enjoy the second week in the Olympic Village in Paris, as well as walk in the Closing Ceremony.
Importantly, Both men and women will be competing at Teahupo'o. This comes after the World Surf League recently announced that female Championship Tour surfers would be competing at the wave from 2021. The last time an elite level female competition took place at Teahupoo was in 2006.
Meanwhile, some of the best female surfers in the world such as Caroline Marks, Carissa Moore and Lakey Peterson have been charging heavy reef slabs such as Teahupoo and Cloudbreak, in Fiji, providing a pressing reminder of their prowess in these challenging conditions.
In terms of logistics, it's been reported that the current plan is to bring in temporary modular housing to form a remote "Athletes' Village" for the surfers in Tahiti. Those facilities would then be dismantled after the event ends and used in other parts of Tahiti as social housing.
Organizers will also be working closely with stakeholders and authorities to ensure that the local community is well looked after and promoted accordingly. Some locals have recently expressed concerns about the environmental impact of hosting the Games at their pristine reef break.