Olympics-Tahiti villagers say barge for surf tower build damages reef
A barge planned for use building a controversial judging tower for the Paris 2024 Olympic surfing competition in Tahiti snagged on a reef and damaged coral near the contest site on Friday.
Residents of Teahupo'o in October protested plans by Games organisers to build the 14-metre aluminium tower to enable up to 40 people to watch, film and judge the surfing at a famed break in front of the village.
Organisers including Paris 2024 and the French Polynesia government said last month they had decided building a smaller, lighter tower on the site was the best option, allowing for smaller equipment to install it - but still requiring new foundations in the reef.
The wave at Teahupo'o is one of surfing's most hallowed venues, where big swells slam onto the shallow tropical reef creating perfect but ferocious tubes.
Teahupo'o has long hosted a contest on the professional world tour, using a modest wooden tower for judges on the reef that locals want to be retained for the Olympics but which organisers say is unsafe.