Olympics: Paris 2024 organisers pick faraway Tahiti to host surfing events in radical move

In a photo taken on May 14, 2008, surfer Kelly Slater rides a wave during the third round of competition in the Billabong Pro surfing tournament in Tahiti. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AP, AFP, REUTERS) - The organisers of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games hope to hold surfing events more than 15,000km away in the Pacific island of Tahiti.

The organisers said on their Twitter account on Thursday (Dec 12) that they have chosen the village of Teahupo'o, on the south-west coast of the French Polynesian island.

The tweet was accompanied by a shot of the imposing, glassy waves Teahupo'o is renowned for. The location, given the nod over beaches in south-west France and in Brittany, boasts some of the biggest waves on the men's World Cup circuit.

"It's an extremely pleasant surprise and recognition for our history that will restore honour to Polynesia, where surfing began," the president of Tahiti's surfing federation, Lionel Teihotu, told AFP.

The radical decision to host surfing events there still needs to be approved by the International Olympic Committee, as they would represent the longest distance between an event and the host city at any Olympic Games.

The 2024 Summer Games will be held from July 26 to Aug 11 - 100 years after Paris last hosted them.

International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre, who worked with the organising committee in evaluating the bids, said holding the 2024 Olympic surfing events on the world-renowned Teahupo'o reef break would provide "spectacular" conditions.

"We salute the five candidatures, which were all excellent and well-known surf destinations, but Tahiti was truly exceptional in offering our athletes, and our sport, spectacular conditions for optimal competitions," he said.

"For us, Tahiti represents the authenticity of our sport and the ISA's mission to celebrate surfing's unique culture and lifestyle, while also recalling the long history and heritage of our sport from its Polynesian origins.

"Ultimately, our commitment is to the athletes and the sport and we have no doubt that Teahupo'o will offer an amazing platform for the world's best athletes to shine."

He said he applauded the Paris 2024 organisers for their "courage and originality" in making the landmark proposal.

"Surfing is a sport for the new era of the Games and this approach by Paris 2024 demonstrates how our values are aligned. Our sport's connection to the environment also makes Tahiti a fitting choice - with a bespoke concept that will deliver a sustainable and low carbon impact event."

Next year will see surfing's Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games. The surfing events will take place on four days within an eight-day window at Shidashita Beach, 60km north of Tokyo.

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