President of French Polynesia in Doubts Over Coral Safety – The president of French Polynesia expressed doubts about the viability of Olympic surfing in 2024, citing safety concerns and potential harm to coral from the proposed judging tower. The event is scheduled to take place in Tahiti.
More coral on the beach was broken in a new test on Friday in the French Pacific island by a construction barge scheduled to install a new judging tower. The test was seen on camera by environmental activists.
That might mean that the judges’ only available place is an ancient wooden tower.
“Today we’re breaking coral, and tomorrow we may be endangering people’s lives if we use this old equipment,” Moetai Brotherson told local broadcaster TNTV on Saturday.
“If there’s no solution in the end… we must call into question the survival of the surf contests at Teahupoo,” he added.
Brotherson postponed the start of building work on Monday and the tests he was scheduled to oversee.
And he stated that “there’s no way we will be able to re-use the old foundations… or the old tower” .
Brotherson said AFP that as Teahupoo was the original location submitted to Olympic authorities as part of France’s candidacy, it would not be feasible to relocate the tournament to another Tahiti beach.
Additionally, moving the surfing competitions to a location in metropolitan France would cost several million euros (dollars).
However, director of the Tahiti Olympics Barbara Martins-Nio expressed her “confidence a technical solution exists.”
“A new tower and new foundations are the only way,” she added — while acknowledging that “it’s true that it’s difficult to access the site”.
“If we don’t manage it, all of us together will have to ask ourselves what happens next,” Martins-Nio said.
A petition against the proposed 14-meter (46-foot) aluminum judges’ tower has received more than 168,000 signatures on the internet, and hundreds of people have demonstrated at the Teahupoo location itself.
American surfing legend Kelly Slater said last week that it “doesn’t make any sense to need such a giant tower for a 2 days event” and suggested instead that money be donated to “local infrastructure.”
The primary group against the new skyscraper, Vai ara o Teahupoo, has ceased to comment on the matter to the media.