The old judging tower on the reef at Teahupo’o is slated for destruction and replacement in time for the upcoming Olympics. Photo: WSL
The proposed new judging tower on the reef at Teahupo’o for the upcoming Olympics has not been well received locally, and a recent development is making things much worse. A construction barge slated to install the judging tower for the Olympic surfing event at Teahupo’o broke off pieces of the beach’s coral reef on December 1. Now, the International Surfing Association (ISA) released a statement regarding the debacle.
“The ISA was saddened and surprised to see that a test undertaken by the French Polynesian government resulted in the coral reef at Teahupo’o being damaged by a barge,” the ISA wrote in a press release.
The accident was yet another step in the controversy surrounding the tower. For years, the WSL has used a wooden structure for its events at there, but it was deemed unusable for the 2024 Olympics due to safety concerns. Olympic officials stated that since the Olympics required more staff and a more reliable live broadcast, a new tower was necessary.
“As a result,” wrote The Inertia’s Cooper Geegan, “plans were made for a three-story aluminum structure that would include additional capacity, enhanced security, air conditioning, electricity, water, and toilets.”
Locals, however, are staunchly against it. An online petition calling for reconsideration has amassed 183,000 signatures of this writing, and many surfers are voicing their concerns.
“I’m fighting so hard because I know how precious Teahupo’o is,” said Teahupo’o local Lorenzo Avvenenti. “They are trying to touch one of the last pristine parts of the world. We are not rich in money, but we are so rich in nature. They are trying to destroy our riches – the only thing we got. I want my kids to be able to catch their own fish for dinner like I’ve been doing my whole life. I want them to be able to get their lobsters on the reef at night – just the simple things.”
The International Olympic Federation is ultimately responsible for Olympic surfing competitions, and according to its statement, “venue facilities and infrastructure are the responsibility of the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee in coordination with the French Polynesian government.”
After the barge damaged the reef, the French Polynesian government decided to stop all further testing for the time being.
“From the beginning of the proposal to host Olympic surfing in French Polynesia, the ISA has always insisted that the protection of the natural environment in Teahupo’o is a priority,” the ISA wrote. “This vision was agreed and is shared by all parties… The ISA welcomes this decision (to pause testing), and has urged intensified consultations to consider all available options.”
A compromise has yet to be reached, but the ISA is fighting to finding a resolution acceptable to all parties involved.
“As life-long surfers, we are passionate about the need to protect the oceans, for us and for future generations,” the press release finished. “We are therefore committed to working with all parties in order to find a common agreement on running the competition while protecting the local, natural environment.”
Founded in 2010, The Inertia is the definitive voice of surf and outdoors. They approach the natural world and its devoted culture with curiosity, optimism, and respect. They take pride in bringing their passion for the oceans and mountains to life through original films, reporting, and monumental gatherings. They aim to make a positive impact on the planet through partnerships with nonprofits working hard to preserve earth’s sacred places. Be sure to visit and bookmark The Inertia website to view valuable Surfing and Outdoor related News and Resourceful Articles regularly.
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