Olympics "Sober" Compromise to Teahupoo Tower
With eight months till Paris 2024 begins, Olympic organisers appear to have cleared the stalemate over the proposed judging tower.
Led by Matahi Drollet, but also backed by some surfers competing in the Olympics, opposition swelled against the controversial tower which required drilling into the Teahupoo reef. The protest even prompted French Polynesian president Moetai Brotherson to suggest shifting the Paris 2024 event from Teahupo’o to Taharuu - a standard beachbreak that surfers need not travel 15,000km to ride.
In response, revised plans for the new judging tower will be 25 per cent smaller, “to return to the size of the old wooden tower (150 metres square),” a statement from Paris 2024 organisers and the Polynesian government said.
The "old tower" is of course the wooden tower used by the WSL for the past two decades, which Olympic authorities originally insisted “does not meet safety standards, will no longer be used and must be replaced for the sustainability of the organisation of surfing events in Teahupoo”.
The new tower’s weight will also be nine tonnes, compared to fourteen for the original, while catering to 25-30 officials instead of 40, and no longer providing connections to drinking and waste water for flushing toilets.
It's expected the Olympic's judging panel will be the same as the WSL judges, who annually adjudicate the Tahiti Pro from the existing structure, which along with water doesn't provide air conditioning or high-speed internet. The latter issue will have to be resolved to meet expectations.
In a 2500-word explanation of its decision and studies, Olympic organisers claimed that “the reinforcement of existing foundations without drilling (i.e. by anchoring 288 new steel bars at a depth of 1.5m) has been studied, but it would have a greater impact on the coral which has established itself over the years on the concrete pads than building new foundations in an area with few corals.
“The new tower, more sober and reduced in size and weight, installed on new perennial foundations, is the solution to ensure the durability of the tower over time and to guarantee the holding of future sporting events in Teahupo’o.
“This tower, as well as the new foundations, could receive ten-year approval, essential for insurance purposes.”