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For 2024 Paris Olympics, organizers want to hold surfing 10,000 miles away

French surfer Jeremy Flores competes in the 2019 Tahiti Pro on Aug. 20 at Teahupo’o.
French surfer Jeremy Flores competes in the 2019 Tahiti Pro on Aug. 20 at Teahupo’o.
(Brian Bielmann / AFP via Getty Images)

Several years ago, Olympic leaders began pushing the idea that host cities could spread events over a wide region — even share with a neighboring country — to make the Games more manageable and defray costs.

They probably didn’t have something like this in mind.

On Thursday, the organizing committee for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris announced its desire to hold the surfing competition nearly 10,000 miles away in Tahiti.

French coastal spots such as Biarritz and the Basque Country and Pointe de la Torche bid for the event, but organizers opted for the Teahupo’o break in a part of the world they rightly characterized as “one of the cradles” of the sport.

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Conditions there should allow them to successfully hold an event that, well, requires waves.

“The consistency and the quality of the Teahupo’o wave, at this time of the year, in the middle of Tahiti’s high surf season, should ensure that the Olympic competition will take place over one week,” the Paris 2024 organizers said.

The decision isn’t entirely unprecedented. The 1956 Melbourne Olympics faced strict regulations that required all horses entering Australia to be quarantined for six months, so equestrian events were shifted to Stockholm.

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French officials have declared that not only is breakdancing a sport, it should be an Olympic sport.

Tahiti makes sense for Paris 2024 because it is part of France’s overseas territories. The 48 qualifying surfers will compete during the early days of the Games, then have the opportunity to fly to Paris, where they can live in the Olympic village and take part in the closing ceremony.

The venue must be approved by the International Olympic Committee, which will discuss the proposal at a January meeting.

Organizers used words such as “spectacular” and “extraordinary” in describing Teahupo’o, adding that it would “allow Paris 2024 to resonate all the way to the heart of the Pacific Ocean.”


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