2024 Olympic Surfers Will Take on Teahupo’o, One of the Most Dangerous Waves in the World

Teahupo'o, TahitiPhoto: Courtesy of vladimir3d/Shutterstock

In August 2016, when surfing was officially added to the Olympic Games, there was much speculation about whether or not it would catch the interest of the general public. Would the masses appreciate it? Would it be exciting to watch? A lot depends on the location. The 2020 events will be held at Shidashita Beach, where the waves are known to get really good, but 2024 promises to be especially wild. According to AFP, organizers for the Paris Olympic Games have decided to hold the 2024 surfing events at one of the most infamous waves in the world: Teahupo’o, Tahiti.

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Located 9,750 miles from Paris in French Polynesia, Teahupo’o was primarily chosen for its high likelihood of scoring good waves during summer months. It beat out several other locales that presented bids, including Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes, and La Torche—all located along the Atlantic coast of France. The International Surfing Association (ISA) announced Thursday morning that it fully supports the decision.

“Ultimately, our commitment is to the athletes and the sport and we have no doubt that Teahupo’o will offer an amazing platform for the world’s best athletes to shine,” ISA President Fernando Aguerre said in a statement. “For this, we were not surprised by the full support of our Athletes Commission for this choice.”

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Teahupo’o is truly a freak of nature, and it’s widely known as one of the “heaviest” and most dangerous waves in the world. Swells creep up out of deep water and lurch over a very shallow coral reef (often only a couple of feet beneath the surface). This creates waves that can appear to break below sea level, and they explode directly onto almost dry reef.

However, this unusual bathymetry creates some of the most perfect, gut-wrenching waves ever witnessed by humans. For the experts who train their whole lives to surf them, it doesn’t get much better.

“The famed waves at Teahupo’o are revered among surfers all over the globe, and will draw an unprecedented level of attention and excitement to the Games,” ISA Athletes’ Commission chair and world-renowned women’s big-wave surfer Justine Dupont said in a press release.

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With all eyes on the athletes at Shidashita Beach during surfing’s debut at the 2020 Games this summer, the sport will surely receive a level of attention that it never has before—and it will be very interesting to see how the general public reacts. But that’s just an appetizer. With a proper swell, the 2024 event in Tahiti should be a fireworks show. If a jaw-dropping event is what organizers want, they certainly picked a venue with the potential to make that happen.

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