The Polynesian island of Tahiti has been chosen to host the surfing events at the 2024 Paris Olympics after being selected over beaches in southwest France and Brittany, organisers said on Thursday.
Tahiti lies 15,700 kilometres (9,750 miles) from Paris but was chosen because it offers near-guaranteed surfing waves in the summer months.
The events will take place at Teahupoo, a location that 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.
According to the 2024 organising committee there was no difference in the cost or environmental impact of the four possible venues.
Tahiti was preferred on “sporting grounds” — a survey by Meteo France, the French meteorological centre, suggests that Teahupoo offers a greater likelihood of good surfing waves during the summer months, the Paris local organising committee said.
The choice of Teahupoo is controversial because it does not currently feature on the women’s world circuit. The waves there are currently considered to be too dangerous for women surfers.
Organisers said they would get round the problem of hosting the Olympic women’s surfing events with careful scheduling.
“We can put the women on at a time of the day when the waves are less powerful,” Teihotu said. “We have ways of planning that now and it will allow women to also surf at Teahupoo.”
Organisers also approved the choice of Place de la Concorde in Paris to host the five ‘urban’ sports — skateboarding, BMX Freestyle, breakdancing, 3×3 basketball and climbing.