Paris 2024: Tahiti chosen to host surfing competition

The Teahupo'o wave
The Teahupo'o wave in French Polynesia island Tahiti is renowned for being one of the world's biggest waves

Paris 2024 Olympic organisers say the surfing competition will take place in Tahiti - 9,760 miles (15,700km) from the French capital.

The move is subject to validation from the International Olympic Committee, but if approved, athletes will compete on the French overseas territory's Teahupo'o wave in the South Pacific.

Tahiti has been chosen in preference to beaches in south-west France and in Brittany.

Surfing makes its debut at Tokyo 2020.

The French Polynesian island is a 22-hour fight from Paris, and a flight could cost about £2,000 at peak summer prices in 2020.

Tahiti, which is 10 hours behind Paris, is used as a location for the men's World Surf League circuit and Teahupo'o is renowned for being one of the world's biggest waves.

But the venue does not feature on the women's world circuit because the waves there are currently considered too dangerous for women surfers.

The president of Tahiti's surfing federation Lionel Teihotu said they will put plans in place to allow Teahupo'o to also host the women's Olympic surfing events.

"We can put the women on at a time of the day when the waves are less powerful," he said.

Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes and La Torche in France were the other candidates and Paris 2024 organisers thanked them for their "strong nominations" in a tweet.external-link

But Biarritz, one of the most popular surfing sports in Europe, said it would not give up on hosting the event until the IOC agree to it being staged in Tahiti.

"This is not a final decision," said Biarritz spokesman Laurent Ortiz. "It is the proposal of the organising committee, so we will remain an active candidate until the beginning of January.

"As long as nothing is finalised, we will keep hope."

Lacanau and its partner Bordeaux said staging the event so far from France goes against Paris 2024's promise of staging a more environmentally responsible Games.external-link

"This decision is very surprising as the late application of Tahiti is at the opposite end of the values that we expect for this kind of event, such as the carbon footprint, the hosting, the associated costs, the legacy," they said in a statement.

The 2024 organising committee said there was no difference in the cost or environmental impact of all the possible venues.

Landes spokesman Philippe Courtesseyre said they were "not completely surprised" by the decision because they realised in recent weeks that Tahiti "had the whip hand" in the bidding process.

The International Surfing Association (ISA) supported the decision, saying Tahiti is "truly exceptional in offering our athletes, and our sport, spectacular conditions for optimal competitions".

"Selecting Tahiti as the Olympic venue is also a testimony to the Paris 2024 spirit of creativity and innovation," said ISA president Fernando Aguerre.

ISA athletes' commission chair Justine Dupont said athletes she had spoken with a "super excited about the proposal of Tahiti", adding it will "draw an unprecedented level of attention and excitement to the Games".

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