Back in December, the IOC met up for a planning meeting where the subject of surfing’s location for the 2024 Paris Olympic games came up for discussion.
The gentle rollers of Biaritz’s Côte des Basques, the wobbly peelers of Lacanau and the whomping tubes of Hossegor were all suggested, but today it was announced the organisation has gone in an altogether different direction, earmarking a remote island in the middle of the Pacific.
That’s right. In eight years time, the surfing Olympics will be travelling all the way to the end of the road. The hall of cracked skulls, home of the Millenium wave and the Code Red swell. The place where Keala Kennelly got her faced shaved off.
The news has been met with a mixed reaction, with some on the inside complaining Tahiti is too far from the centre of the games (almost 10 thousand miles is quite far) and the mainland French beach towns bidders have been lamenting the loss to their Polynesian counterpart. However, the logic of the decision is clear to see.
While France’s Atlantic coast slumbers in July and August, it’s high season for French Polynesia. Plus, if the idea of surfing’s inclusion in the Olympics is to showcase the very best of our sport – rather than the sort of beach break grovel fest most die-hard surf fans would turn off – then it surely makes sense to hold it at one of the best waves on earth.
The qualification process might need tightening up a bit, as excelling in the ISA’s doesn’t necessarily produce competitors up to the task of 10-12 foot Chopes.
“I’m a little scared for countries where surfing isn’t their strongest point,” Steph Gilmore told Stab on that point. “If someone qualifies and then they get thrown out at solid Teahupo’o, that’d be scary. But I think that’s because I’m deep down really scared for myself.”
While this decision effectively confirms Teahupoo, there are still a few hurdles. Surfing has to make it through its exhibition phase debut this summer without being axed of course and the games themselves still have to face down the existential threat posed by an impending global pandemic. But if alls well on those fronts, we could be gearing up for a real surfing spectacle come 2024.
Cover photo: WSL