PAPEETE: The president of French Polynesia has questioned whether 2024 Olympic surfing can go ahead at the planned site in Tahiti, saying he was concerned about safety and damage to coral from a planned judging tower.

A construction barge slated to install a new judging tower broke more of the beach’s corals in a new test in the French Pacific territory on Friday, which was filmed by environmental groups. That could leave an old wooden tower as the only space for the judges.

“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.”

Brotherson cancelled tests he was supposed to observe as well as the start of construction work on Monday.

And he said that “there’s no way we will be able to re-use the old foundations… or the old tower”.

Brotherson told that it would not be possible to move the competition to another beach in Tahiti, as Teahupoo was the site originally filed with Olympic authorities as part of France’s candidacy.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2023

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