Local approval for the controversial construction of the Olympic Surf Tower. GETTY IMAGES

The Leader of French Polynesia, Moetai Brotherson, announced that the construction of the controversial tower in Teahupo'o, Tahiti,, intended for use by judges during the surfing competition at the 2024 Paris Olympics, is progressing well and that the Polynesians have accepted the proposed solution.

The President of French Polynesia, Moetai Brotherson, expressed satisfaction with the construction of the Control Tower required for the Olympic competition scheduled to take place between 27-30 July 2024, in Teahupo'o, Tahiti, a French overseas territory in the South Pacific. The construction of the tower is going well in the eyes of the archipelago's top leader, following a year marked by scandals amid environmentalist protests and debates about its construction, including differing opinions from political officials.

Furthermore, the president, who has been in office since 12 May 2023, expressed complete satisfaction with the progress of the project: "I am completely satisfied with how the work is going after the controversy surrounding the judges' tower." He also emphasized that "the Polynesians have accepted the proposed solution." Regarding the progress itself, he added, "So far, about two-thirds of the drilling has been completed, and they are about to start placing the foundation blocks."

It is worth noting that work on the tower on Teahupo'o beach in the French Pacific island of Tahiti was suspended in December after a barge used by workers damaged coral in the area, triggering alarms within the local community, especially among environmentalists and local surfers who organized various protests, including online signature campaigns, where they gathered over 200,000 signatures against the continuation of the tower construction project, citing its adverse impact on environmental protection and marine flora and fauna.

An aerial view surfers and spectator boats in Teahupo'o, French Polynesia. GETTY IMAGES
An aerial view surfers and spectator boats in Teahupo'o, French Polynesia. GETTY IMAGES

President Brotherson had long questioned whether the surf rounds of the 2024 Paris Olympics should take place in Teahupo'o. However, after modifications to the plans and schedule, he told AFP that he now wanted the opportunity to showcase his region of over 100 islands to the world during the thirty-third Olympic Games of the modern era.

The new aluminum tower will replace a previously used wooden version in Teahupo'o, a longstanding venue for world surfing championships. To reassure the local community and international environmentalists, the president said, "We have changed the format. We are very strict with the builders." Brotherson added, "All the work is being supervised by our services, and everything is going well." "We haven't had any more damage to the coral."

It is expected that the new judges' tower will be completed before 13 May, in time for a World Surf League (WSL) event that will serve as a dress rehearsal for the Olympics officially featuring surfing for the second time in its history.