Teahupo'o judging tower. Photo: 2019 Tahiti Pro//WSL

Photo: 2019 Tahiti Pro//WSL

The Inertia

The judging tower at the future Olympic surfing venue of Teahupo’o has been a subject of controversy for some time now. Earlier this year, concerns over damage to the reef prompted protesters to demand that construction of the new tower be scrapped. Their proposed solution was to reuse a wooden tower the WSL has used in earlier broadcasts from the venue. The movement began to gain widespread support, with an online petition amassing over 100,000 signatures.

When asked to comment, French Polynesian president Moetai Brotherson was sympathetic to the protesters, saying he “had a reaction of solidarity.” He even went so far as to say that, had the decision been his to make, he would not have held the competition at Teahupo’o at all. However, he also stated that it would not be possible to reuse the WSL tower, due to logistical and safety concerns.

Then, in December, a construction barge damaged the coral reef, prompting a suspension of work on the tower. In response, the International Surfing Association made a public statement, saying it would not support further construction. Despite that, organizers reiterated that the tower would still be built. Changes were made to the construction plan and schedule, after which construction continued

After seeing the latest progress, Brotherson has changed his stance, as France 24 reports. “I’m totally happy with how the work is going after the controversy over the judges’ tower,” he told AFP. “Polynesians have accepted the solution that was proposed.”

“So far, around two thirds of the drilling has been done and they are going to start laying the foundation blocks,” he added.

“We’ve changed the format. We are being very, very demanding with the builders,” Brotherson went on. “All the work is being followed by our services and everything is going well.”

He concluded that no more coral had been broken since the December incident.


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