Wed, 4 March 2020

After the wave pool hullabaloo, Olympic surfing's tenure in real waves is secure. After Tokyo (if it survives Corona fears), we head to the most brutally beautiful spot in the world, writes Spike.


FREEZE FRAME: Can you do better in terms of visual, iconic, composition? Photo WSL / Scholtz

Paris 2024 will take place at Teahupo'o - a hard act to beat for subsequent iterations of the Olympics. The International Surfing Association (ISA) today welcomed and "fully supports" the IOC Executive Board's approval of the French Polynesia island of Tahiti for Paris 2024.

As written on Wavescape before, Teahupo'o will be a vastly different proposition than Tsurigasaki Beach in Chiba, where the Olympics will take place this year. Well, unless it is scuppered by the Corona virus, as reported in the Daily Maverick today. Tsurigasaki is a perfectly passable beach break, and fires when the swell is proper, but you just can't beat the world-renowned Tahitian reef break for drama, and sheer brute beauty.

According to ISA, the surfing "athletes' village will be made up of temporary modular houses which will be dismantled after the competition, among other initiatives, to ensure the Games are sustainable and the impact on the environment is minimised".

The hoo-haa over wave pools has subsided a bit, thankfully. When the WSL first held an event at the Lemoore pool, both Kelly Slater and WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt mentioned that Olympic organisers would consider using their artificial wave pool because the Tokyo Olympics was being held outside the best season for surfing in Japan.

Organisers instead opted for Tsurigasaki Beach, in Ichinomiya town on Chiba Prefecture's Pacific coast 60km SE of Tokyo. Provision has been made for 6,000 spectactors. It's hit and miss, but that's what surfing in the real world is. That the event falls outside the swell window is a slight problem though.

That should change come 2024. ISA President Fernando Aguerre said they had worked closely with the Paris 2024 leadership team on selecting a host location for the surfing competitions. It was always going to be a no-brainer. Where else could you hold the event. Reunion? A bit sharky. Some remote, far-flung outpost in the radial arc of French influence?

"Tahiti was truly exceptional in offering the athletes, and our sport, spectacular conditions for optimal competition. For surfing, Teahupo'o is a sacred place, rich in history and tradition and offering a truly authentic surfing experience, whilst paying homage to the culture and heritage of the sport."

The French are passionate advocates of the ocean, and the second-biggest maritime nation in the world behind the USThe French are passionate advocates of the ocean, and the second-biggest maritime nation in the world behind the US. It will no doubt capture the imagination of the French people. "Tahiti as the Olympic venue is testimony to Paris 2024's spirit of creativity and innovation. Surfing is a sport for the new era of the Games and this approach by Paris 2024 demonstrates how our values are aligned. We are fully committed to ensuring sustainability and ocean conservation around the venue and preserving the beautiful surroundings of the island, whilst respecting the needs of the local population. The Games will leave a legacy of sustainability that adapts to the site - not the contrary - factoring in economic, social, and environmental perspectives."

"Together with our friends and partners at the Paris 2024 Organising Committee and the French Surfing Federation, we look forward to now ensuring we take advantage of this amazing opportunity to showcase the best our sport has to offer and build on the success and legacy of our Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020."

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