— Published 25 October 2023

Tony Estanguet wants to deflate the wave

After basketball and shooting, a new competition venue for the Paris 2024 Games is fueling controversy: the Teahupo’o surf spot in Tahiti, French Polynesia. With 275 days to go before the Olympic event, the OCOG would have gladly spared itself another debate. But the construction of an aluminum tower to house the event judges is crystallizing local tensions. On Sunday October 15, several hundred people gathered near the village of Teahupo’o to protest against a project which, according to opponents, could damage the seabed and harm the site’s biodiversity. The three-storey, 14-metre tower will include an air-conditioned technical room for Internet servers fed by a submarine cable, and toilets with drainage connected to a pipe. Milton Parker, vice-president of the Atihau association, which manages a large part of the village of Teahupo’o under its own name, told AFP: “The Polynesian government wants to get the drill barge through an impossible place, and it’s going to blow everything up. It’s not possible to do it properly. I told them, but they’re going to do it anyway. It’s going to be a disaster. As soon as they start breaking the coral, that’s when we’ll have to intervene. The technicians say they know the site, but that’s not true, they’re lying to us.” Questioned on Tuesday October 24 at the press conference to present the marathon and road cycling courses for the Paralympic Games, Tony Estanguet tried to calm the debate. “If we’re at the stage today with a project for a new tower, it’s because the current judges’ tower doesn’t comply, he explained. Our priority is safety. Paris 2024 will not jeopardize anyone’s safety. The aim is to keep moving forward, to listen. The project can still be amended to respond even better to the concerns of the local population. We absolutely want to preserve this site.