France, according to the Guardian, is considering hosting the surfing portion of the 2024 Summer Olympics at Teahupo’o in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of the nation.
While the main events will be based in Paris, and France has no shortage of surf breaks along its Atlantic coast (see Hossegor, Biarritz, Capbreton, etc.) nearby, the nation’s National Olympic Committee might be anticipating what we all dread for the 2020 games: a flat spell.
As goes for many places, France’s Atlantic seaboard has a specific swell season and, like Japan’s, it does not happen to fall smack-dab in the middle of summer—or at the convenience of event organizers, for that matter. Meanwhile, Teahupo’o’s swell season, which runs from about April until October, looks undoubtedly more promising.
What does the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have to say about the reported proposal? IOC president Thomas Bach had this much to say: “The choice is in the hands of the [French] organizing committee…but…my personal opinion is that if you have two or more candidate sites, of the same sporting level, I definitely prefer the option that is closest to the centre [sic] of the Games, so that the athletes and spectators can profit from the atmosphere of the Olympics.”
Judging by the latter part of that statement, it’s unlikely Thomas Bach is a hardcore surfer. Sure, France’s coast sees massive swells, but in no way is it as sure to perform as Chopes during the summer months.
Chopes is a stop on the WSL Championship Tour, so holding a competition there is far from unprecedented—it’s dependably one of the most exciting events to watch each season. Considering that the very premise of the Olympics is that the world gets to witness the best of the best competing in the best possible conditions, Teahupoo would be tough to top as a venue—and it surely wouldn’t be met with the same skepticism many surfers felt when Chiba was announced for the 2020 Tokyo games.
Until France decides what to do, we won’t know for certain where the surfing portion of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games will happen, and it’s possible that the outcome of the 2020 games could have an influence. If France does decide on Chopes as the venue, we can at least expect this much: the event will be a definitive far cry from whatever we’ll see at the 2020 games outside of Tokyo next July.