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Paris 2024 selects Tahiti for Olympic surfing competition

A surfer competes at Teahupo'o, Tahiti (by Steve Robertson/Getty Images)

Paris 2024 has today (Thursday) confirmed that the Polynesian island of Tahiti will host surfing events during its summer Olympic Games, subject to formal approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Tahiti, which is located in French Polynesia in the South Pacific Ocean, was said to have been Paris 2024’s preferred choice ahead of Brittany or Biarritz in France. Today’s news confirms reports earlier this month that Tahiti had moved into pole position for the hosting rights.

In July, French Polynesia was one of five destinations that officially applied to host surfing events at Paris 2024 alongside Biarritz, the community of municipalities of Le Pays Bigouden Sud (La Torche), Department of Les Landes (Hossegor, Capbreton and Seignosse) and Lacanau – Bordeaux Metropole.

French Polynesia is located some 15,900 kilometres from France and IOC president Thomas Bach has previously said that he would prefer a hosting site that is “closest to the centre of the Games”, while insisting that the choice would ultimately be that of Paris 2024. The IOC is set to discuss the matter at a meeting on January 8, where approval is expected to be a formality.

The Paris 2024 surfing events will take place at Teahupo’o, a location that boasts some of the biggest waves on the men’s World Cup circuit, but does not feature on the women’s calendar as its waves are considered too dangerous for female surfers.

Paris 2024 said Tahiti has been chosen on “sporting grounds”, maintaining there would be no difference in the cost or environmental impact of the five possible venues.

Lionel Teihotu, president of Tahiti’s surfing federation, told the AFP news agency: “It’s an extremely pleasant surprise and recognition for our history that will restore honour to Polynesia, where surfing began.”

Paris 2024 said the consistency and the quality of the Teahupo’o wave, in the middle of Tahiti’s high surf season, should ensure that the Olympic competition will take place over one week. All 48 athletes competing will therefore have the opportunity to spend the second week of the Games in the Olympic Village, and take part in the closing ceremony.

Teihotu said the scheduling of events would also address concerns over female surfing competitions at the Olympics.

Teihotu said: “We can put the women on at a time of the day when the waves are less powerful. We have ways of planning that now and it will allow women to also surf at Teahupo’o.”

Surfing will be contested at an Olympics for the first time during the Tokyo 2020 Games next year. Other sports making their Olympic debuts in Tokyo are breakdancing, karate, skateboarding and sport climbing.

In other news from Paris 2024 today, the organising committee approved Place de la Concorde in Paris as the site for the five urban sports of skateboarding, BMX Freestyle, breakdancing, 3×3 basketball and climbing. Paris 2024 said Place de la Concorde will become a 35,000-seat Olympic stadium dedicated to urban sports during the Games.