Paris 2024: Surfing events at the Teahupo'o site

The Polynesian Government, Paris 2024, and the Haut-Commissariat have been studying all possible options to improve the project in recent weeks, with a particular focus on the installation of a new judges' tower and its foundations for the organisation of the Olympic Games surfing events and other competitions in the focus.

Four priorities

1. The exceptional environment. Protecting the natural environment of Teahupo'o has always been a priority. All development plans at Teahupo'o have been studied to minimise the impact on the environment. This has been the aim of all the studies with a view of organising the Games and in particular the environmental support mission during the design and construction phase of the new tower. 

2. Teahupo'o Wave in the spotlight. The protection of the natural environment at Teahupo'o has always been a priority in the conception of all proposed solutions for the site. All development plans at Teahupo'o have been studied to minimise the impact on the environment. This has been the aim of all the studies undertaken for the Games, and in particular the environmental support contract for the design and construction of the new tower.  

3. Safety standards. The choice of Teahupo'o as the venue for the surfing events of the Olympic Games is a result of a shared ambition between the Paris 2024 teams, the various departments of the country, the State, the municipalities concerned, and the International Surfing Federation (ISA). They all want to ensure the highest level of competition at the Olympic Games and to put the Teahupo'o Wave, French Polynesia, and its culture in the global spotlight.  

4. A legacy for the future. The long-term future as the Tahiti Pro at Teahupo'o is a priority for the Polynesian government and for Paris 2024. The new project must provide a long-term solution that guarantees the proper organisation of future competitions.  

The amazing waves at the Teahupoo site. © Getty Images
The amazing waves at the Teahupoo site. © Getty Images

All the options were put on the table and examined on the basis of the priorities shared by the project stakeholders. All consulting agencies, the technical services of the country, the Haut-Commissariat, and Paris 2024, as well as the public organisations are fully committed to carrying out the various complementary studies required.  

1. Certification of the existing wooden tower and use of the existing foundations. The study of the various options concluded that it was not possible to certify the current wooden tower, even after renovation. The wooden tower was built 20 years ago on the exceptional Teahupo'o site, and it has been of great value in competitions, but is also subject to the passage of time and natural deterioration. The foundations are weakened, mainly due to corrosion, and it'd be too risky. 

2. Reinforce the existing foundations. These reinforcements would have a greater impact on the coral reef. It would also require 30m3 of concrete to build the sarcophagus around the old foundations (twice as much as the original solution), leaving a larger footprint. Finally, without drilling, it is not possible to comply with current standards to ensure the long-term durability of this type of structure. This solution would therefore have required additional work.  

3. A new wooden tower. It would have been impossible to carry out such a project in the time available. This option would have involved significant with any benefits.

4. Judges on the shore or on a boat. The Teahupo'o wave is 750m from the nearest point on land. The judges wouldn't have enough visibility of the wave from the shore, and this distance doesn't allow for quality television coverage, and at a bad angle. 

France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. © Getty Images
France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. © Getty Images

As the use of boats for filming was also impossible, the new project is based on the use of a leaner and smaller tower that is less imposing and substantially reduced in size and weight. This presents the advantage of being able to reduce the depth of drilling for the foundations of the tower and allow the use of a barge with a shallower draught during the construction phase. 

This new, less imposing tower, reduced in size and weight, on new permanent foundations, is the solution that will ensure the longevity of the tower and guarantee that future sporting events can be held at Teahupo'o. This tower and the new foundations will be able to achieve ten-year certification, which is essential for insurance purposes.

The Polynesian Government, Paris 2024, and the High Commission will continue to work in a spirit of dialogue and transparency until the Games, should it be with the municipalities concerned, representatives of environmental associations, the local surfing community, and local residents to ensure that the Games are a success for Tahiti and its people.