To say that surfing’s entry into the Olympics has been met with a lukewarm response from core surfers would be putting it generously. Since it was first announced that Japan would host surfing’s Olympic debut in July of this year, every salt-crusted punter with WiFi access has offered their own back-of-the-napkin math regarding the wave potential along Chiba’s notoriously inconsistent shores during the event window—not to mention their thoughts on how the Olympics and surrounding commercial interests will corrupt surfing’s apparently otherwise sweet, innocent, cherubic soul.
Well, the IOC can’t really do anything about potential soul corrupting, but it can, and has, done something about spicing up the next Olympic surfing venue.
On Tuesday, the IOC confirmed that surfers competing in the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics won’t be doing so at some nearby topless beach, but rather half a world away in Tahiti. The French overseas collectivity boasts one of the world’s most fearsome waves, of course, in Teahupoo. And while not exactly a convenient commute from the Olympic Village, Tahiti can offer something that few other venues on this Earth can—an honest-to-god spectacle capable of knocking both core surf fans and casual observers flat on their asses.
“Tahiti as the Olympic venue is testimony to Paris 2024’s spirit of creativity and innovation,” said International Surfing Association President and Olympic surfing figurehead Fernando Aguerre in a press release. “Surfing is a sport for the new era of the Games and this approach by Paris 2024 demonstrates how our values are aligned.”
Since it first burst onto the scene via the Gotcha Pro in the late ‘90s, Teahupoo has played host to many of the most memorable moments in surfing competition. Think Kelly Slater drinking a Hinano in the tube after getting two perfect 10s, Andy Irons’ post-barrel shotgun claim, the obscenely-heavy Code Red swell or pretty much every wave ridden on finals day of the 2014 Tahiti Pro. In other words, while Chiba may not represent surfing at its most entertaining (especially to a wider audience), Tahiti certainly does, and the 2024 Games will fall fatefully in the middle of its high season for waves.
The IOC’s decision to hold the Olympic surfing in Tahiti also allows for something that we’ve never seen on the WSL World Tour—namely, some of the best female surfers in the world donning a jersey at Chopes. Perhaps Tahiti’s potential as an Olympic venue is the reason the likes of both Carissa Moore and Caroline Marks have been putting in time there—well, that and the fact that they probably enjoy getting deeply tubed.
It’s 4 years and change until Olympic surfing reaches the Tahitian Thunderdome, though, and in the meantime we’ve still got Japan to contend with. But who knows? Perhaps it’ll be the Quik Pro New York all over again, where surfers turn their nose at an inconsistent venue in the lead-up, only to be glued to the webcast when blind luck ushers in the swell of the year.
Probably not, but here’s to hoping.
This article originally appeared on Surfer.com and was republished with permission.
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