PARIS (AP) — Enormous waves are created in the stormy regions of the Southern Ocean, near Antarctica, an area where whales are often seen. These waves are then generated with intense winds and travel thousands of kilometers across the ocean to crash into Tahiti in the South Pacific.
One keen observer of these events in Tahiti is surfer Kauli Vaast, who is eagerly waiting to ride these waves, aiming to utilize their incredible power and hopefully secure a gold medal.
On the contrary, the decision to host Olympic surfing in French Polynesia is raising logistical and environmental concerns due to the vast distance from the main Olympic events in Paris, as well as the need to fly participants, including surfers, judges, and journalists, to the distant location, which contrasts with the organizers’ intention to reduce the event’s carbon footprint.
However, Tahiti possesses Teahupo’o, renowned for its impressive waves, making it an ideal location for the surfing competition. The venue is expected to create remarkable television images and boost the local tourism industry, despite ongoing protests against plans to install an aluminum tower for the judges and television cameras, fearing impacts on the coral and marine life.
For Vaast, the Olympic spotlight on Teahupo’o provides a unique opportunity to showcase the beauty and power of the waves. He believes that the waves have unique spiritual energy, known locally as “Mana,” and expects a home-field advantage due to his intimate knowledge of Teahupo’o.
The Tahitian venue reflects France’s historical ties to the Pacific and offers an opportunity to involve its overseas territories in the Summer Games. Amid concerns and controversies, the awe-inspiring waves of Teahupo’o are ready to take the global stage, showcasing their natural beauty and power.
AP coverage of the Paris Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games