— Published 20 November 2023

The tower changes, the site remains

The soap opera isn’t over yet, but we now know the outcome. The surfing events of the Paris 2024 Games will indeed take place at the site planned since Tahiti was chosen by the organizing committee, the Teahupo’o wave. After several weeks of uncertainty and a long-running controversy over the aluminum judges’ tower and its impact on the environment, the OGC blew the whistle at the end of last week. The surfing events will not be moved to another spot in French Polynesia. They will remain at Teahupo’o, but with a scaled-down tour. The new version, detailed in a press release from Paris 2024, will have a surface area of 150m², i.e. 50 m2 less than in the initial plans. It will be lighter (9 tons versus 14), and will be able to accommodate fewer people (25 to 30 people versus 40 in the initial project). It was also decided to use a temporary solution for the supply of fibre and electricity (the cabling will be removed after the Games), and to do away with the drinking water and wastewater connections. With this lighter tower, the drilling depth of the foundations will be reduced. Finally, the equipment will be transported on a new, smaller motorized barge, with a shallow draught (20 cm) and no risk of damage to the coral. Note: the foundations will be inserted into the gaps between the existing piles, enabling the new tower to be installed in exactly the same place as the old one. The end of the story, then? In the short term, certainly. But cautiously, the COJO has announced that monthly public meetings will be held in Teahupo’o from January 2024. It also plans to open an Olympic Games information office early next year, staffed by representatives of the Polynesian government, the West Taiarapu tourism committee and Paris 2024. The aim is to provide information and answer questions from local residents and stakeholders.