In 2024, Paris and France will host the Summer Olympics, and with it, a surfing event. This will mark only the second time the sport has been featured in the Olympic program, after making its debut in the 2020 games in Japan. But, long before the 2020 games the race to host the surfing games had already begun in France.

The candidates

Includes four mainland French locations all facing the Atlantic coast:

  • La Torche in Britanny, Northwest of France
  • The trio Hossegor – Capbreton – Seignosse in Nouvelle-Aquitaine,  Southwest of France
  • Lacanau in Nouvelle-Aquitaine,  Southwest of France
  • Biarritz in Nouvelle-Aquitaine,  Southwest of France

And a French overseas territory in the Pacific ocean:

  • Tahiti in French Polynesia, located 15,700 km from Paris in the South Pacific

The facts

The surfing event must be executed flawlessly, as any errors could lead to the sport being removed from the Olympic program, as it has only been held once and has not yet secured a long-term slot in the program. In adherence with the Paris 2024 committee’s desire for a natural site, wave pools were not considered, meaning the event would have to take place exclusively in the ocean between July 27th and July 30th.

During the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere, waves tend to be smaller, unlike the Southern Hemisphere where the swell is at its best this time of year. As a result, the chances of finding good waves off the Atlantic coast of France are slim.

For instance, the popular spot of La Graviere in Hossegor is not known to have great waves at the end of July. However, in Teahupoo, Polynesia, the surfing event would occur during its peak season. Teahupoo is a world-class and legendary wave, fed by strong swells that arise during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter (inversed).

However mainland spots could enable athletes and the public to conveniently meet with the rest of the Olympic crowd, Polynesia is remote and isolated located far from Paris creating additional logistical issues.

The decision

In December 2020, the board of Directors of Paris 2024 selected Teahupoo, located in Tahiti, as the host location for the surfing event.

It was determined that the disparity in wave regularity was significant and favored greatly Teahupoo, and considering that the surfing competition would take place during the initial week of the games, athletes and the surfing community would have the opportunity to travel to mainland France to participate in subsequent events. Despite this, the environmental impact would be lower compared to other proposals.

As French surfers, we believe that the decision to hold the event in Teahupoo was the right one. It would have been a shame to see a major surfing event with the best surfers in the world held on a very small wave. While it may have been able to welcome more local spectators, athletes would not have been able to showcase their skills or compete on such waves.

Is there any other information you would liketo know about Teahupoo or the surfing events at the Olympics?

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