Teahupo’o Olympics Judging Tower: Maybe Not So Bad?

Behold, the new tower at Chopes.<p>Photo: Tim McKenna</p>
Behold, the new tower at Chopes.

Photo: Tim McKenna

Ahead of Paris 2024, and surfing’s second appearance in the Olympics – slated for late July, early August at Teahupo’o, Tahiti – a shiny new aluminum tower has been constructed on the famed reef, which sparked outcries of environmental concern.

Will it destroy the reef? Will it harm the marine wildlife population? And, perhaps most importantly, what will its impact be on the wave?

Now, the tower is built, despite all the backlash and petitioning. And longtime Teahupo’o surf photographer, Tim McKenna, is here with an update. According to Tim, the tower might not be such a bad thing after all for the future of Chopes and surf events.

Regarding the coral, Tim penned: “The tower project was reduced to the bare minimum in order to have the least impact possible on the environment…the area where the tower is built has very little coral. It’s a flat shelf with small spread out corals heads and a few bigger rocks covered with coral.”

As for the future of the tower? For those thinking it’s an eyesore on the natural beauty that is Teahupo’o, it turns out, it’s collapsible. And in Tim’s view, it’ll be crucial for surf contests at the End of the Road, down the road. He continued:

Related: First Look: Controversial Olympic Surfing Judging Tower Built at Teahupo'o

“The new tower was never only for the Olympic Games. It’s a collapsible tower that will be assembled every year for the duration of the event. The aluminum structure designed and built exclusively in Tahiti can finally be certified for insurance and safety reasons. It’s an investment the Tahitian government has made for the next 20 years of surfing events at Teahupo’o.”

Lastly, Tim made it clear that Chopes will be the cosmic arbiter for what becomes of this tower. He finished: “If Teahupo’o does not want the tower an XXL swell will take it down. If Teahupo’o wants the Olympics it will put on the greatest show on earth.”


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