The judges' tower is seen after the last heat of the day during the Shiseido Tahiti pro in Teahupo'o, on the French Polynesian Island of Tahiti . GETTY IMAGES

After a period of controversy, the judges' tower in Teahupo'o (Tahiti), set to be utilised during this summer's Olympic surfing competition, was prepared to cater to the World Surf League on Saturday during a stop on the World Circuit. Olympic chief Tony Estanguet expressed his contentment, stating he was "satisfied to see this structure erected."

"From up there, the view is perfect for judging, it's a structure that's necessary for this competition," Tony Estanguet told AFP after climbing the aluminium structure in front of the wave and its turquoise water tubes.

"Everything is going well. (Teahupo'o) is a little piece of paradise and we are happy to show it off," he added. "What you feel inside is that it is a structure that offers all the safety conditions; you can see it is solid," he said.

A new judges' tower was installed in April after months of controversy over possible damage to the coral. It is currently being used by the World Surf League until 31 May during the Tahiti Pro, a stop on the elite world circuit. It replaces a wooden tower, which no longer met standards, with an aluminium structure, the original version of which caused considerable tension, particularly among environmentalists.  

"We were able to listen to their concerns and modify the tower slightly so that it would fit into this exceptional environment and respect this iconic site," said Estanguet.

Annick Paofai, president of the Association for the Defence of Fenua 'aihere, which initially opposed the project, said at Saturday's competition that "the controversy is completely over".

"We are happy, it is beautiful, I even feel it is in harmony with nature. It is good that the associations spoke out, otherwise they would have done anything. To be honest, there was not too much damage," she explained.

"We did everything right: the tower was christened in the traditional way, in the presence of a Tahitian elder and a priest. The situation here is now calm," Max Wasna, president of the Tahitian Surfing Federation and a native of Teahupo'o, told AFP.

As soon as the Tahiti Pro is over, he will get the keys to the building to complete the preparations with the Olympic organising committee. "We have to have a beautiful Olympics to show that this is paradise," he said.

In Teahupo'o, a small village of a few hundred inhabitants on the Tahitian peninsula, 16,000 km from Paris, work on the Olympic Games is almost complete. At the entrance to the village, which marks the end of the road, a new footbridge allows residents and people with reduced mobility to reach the houses and a rocky point from where you can see the impressive "jaw of Hava'e".

Two marinas for launching boats that will transport athletes, journalists and guests to the wave are under construction near Teahupo'o and are expected to be operational by early July. The main facility in the town will be completed by the end of June and will house 600 to 700 accredited people under large tents, explained Barbara Martins-Nio, Tahiti site manager for Cojo, the Olympic organising committee. 

During the Games, the public will not be able to enter the village, which will be reserved for residents, athletes and accredited persons. The Polynesian government plans to set up several fan zones on the island to watch the competition on television. 

The Olympic Surfing Event is scheduled to run from 27 to 30 July, with a possible extension to 5 August if the swell is delayed.