Surfing legend Kelly Slater stands firm and says no to the giant tower in Tahiti. © Getty Images

Earlier this month, organizers rejected the idea of finding a new venue, saying instead they had agreed with the Polynesian government to build a "more moderate" judges' tower. However, the actual version is not quite like that. Slater did not give the green light to that new intention, and the words of one of the greatest surfers in history have created uncertainty and sparked fierce local resistance.

"It makes no sense to need such a giant tower for a two-day event," Slater commented in response to a video posted by local surfer Matahi Drollet, who condemned the compromise reached by officials.

Polynesia, the venue for the 2024 Olympic Games. © Getty Images
Polynesia, the venue for the 2024 Olympic Games. © Getty Images

"Give the money to the local city infrastructure for all the damage caused by the river change that caused floods earlier this year," wrote the 51-year-old Slater, clearly alluding to making better use of resources.

Several hundred people have been protesting at the site near Teahupoo beach – one of the world's most famous surf spots and the designated Olympic venue – against plans to erect a 14-meter (46-foot) aluminum structure in the water for judges to measure and better assess the competitions.

Local associations argued that the installation would damage corals without the possibility of repair. An online petition against the project has garnered over 168,000 signatures, indicating growing opposition.

The revised installation will match a previous wooden tower in size and weight, reducing pressure on the foundations. This, in turn, would reduce the depth of drilling, organizers said.

Slater suggested using the existing wooden structure or "rebuilding the frame on the same bases" as an alternative measure.

However, the organizing committee told AFP that the wooden tower "has not met standards for about 10 years."

Moetai Brotherson, president of French Polynesia, comprising over 100 islands, including Tahiti, initially suggested a different location for the competition without the need for a tower.

Now, it seems there is finally an agreement, and the tower plans will be modified, keeping the surf events at Teahupoo.

"The solution we propose, according to the unanimous opinion of the expert committee, is the best possible," Brotherson declared to AFP in Paris last week.

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