Surfing Governing Body 'welcomes' Pause In Olympics Works At Tahiti Venue

Surfing governing body 'welcomes' pause in Olympics works at Tahiti venue

Paris, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 7th Dec, 2023) The International Surf Association (ISA) said on Wednesday it welcomed the decision by authorities to suspend work on the venue in Tahiti for the Paris Olympics events.

Work has been put on hold after damage was done to coral during tests last week, raising the prospect of the Pacific island being stripped of its hosting rights.

A new judges' tower had been planned to replace the current wooden structure for the surfing competitions at the Games, taking place between July 27-30.

"The French Polynesian government has taken the decision to pause all further testing and preparations to draw lessons following the incident on the reef," the ISA said on social media.

"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 welcomes this decision, and has urged intensified consultations to consider all available options."

On Friday, a construction barge used to install the new tower broke more of the beach's corals in a new test in the French Pacific territory which was filmed by environmental groups.

French Polynesia president Moetai Brotherson then questioned whether events could go ahead at the site.

More than 183,000 people have signed an online petition against the planned aluminium judges' tower in the sea, supposed to reach a height of 14 metres (46 feet), while hundreds have protested at the Teahupo'o site itself.

Local associations argued the installation would damage corals beyond repair.

The organising committee told AFP the wooden tower "has not been up to standard for about 10 years".

- 'Protect the oceans' -

American surfing legend Kelly Slater posted online recently, saying it "doesn't make any sense to need such a giant tower for a 2 days event", suggesting to "give the money to local infrastructure" instead.

"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 said.

"This vision was agreed and is shared by all parties."

In November, Brotherson had opened the door to moving the event elsewhere in Tahiti or in mainland France before the country's sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said Teahupo'o remained the main option.

There were four other original candidates, all based in mainland France, before Tahiti was chosen in 2020.

Later on Wednesday, two of those locations -- Lacanau on the Atlantic coast near Bordeaux and La Torche, further north in Brittany -- said they could welcome the event.