Wave of surfers’ support seals Tahiti as 2024 Olympic venue

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Surfing events at the 2024 Paris Olympics will be held on the other side of the world in Tahiti — just as the athletes wanted.

The International Olympic Committee signed off Tuesday on Paris organizers’ request to send surfing competitions more than 15,000 kilometers (9,000 miles) away to the Pacific island instead of using France’s Atlantic coast.

“The athletes’ village will be made up of temporary modular houses which will be dismantled after the competition, among other initiatives, to ensure the games are sustainable and the impact on the environment is minimized,” the International Surfing Association said.

Olympic leaders were won over despite IOC President Thomas Bach initially saying last year that he preferred keeping athletes closer to the host city.

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Paris officials told IOC executive board members Tuesday they found “overwhelming support” among the surfing community for going to Tahiti.

“The (board members) were convinced by the enthusiasm of the Paris 2024 presentation,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “They assured us, and went through sustainability and, importantly too, the popularity among athletes.”

The competition venue will be the village of Teahupo’o on the southwest coast of the French Polynesian island.

Teahupo’o was described by the world surfing body as a “world-renowned reef break … recognized for its world-class waves.”

A Paris proposal for the downtown Place de la Concorde to host urban sports — such as 3-on-3 basketball, breakdancing and sports climbing — was also approved.

In other business, senior weightlifting official Tamas Ajan resigned his honorary IOC membership amid an investigation of alleged corruption at the sport’s governing body, which he has led for 20 years.

Adams said Ajan offered his resignation to protect his sport while also rejecting all allegations made against him.

Ajan was implicated by German broadcaster ARD in doping cover-ups and financial irregularities linked to weightlifting’s share of Olympic revenues in Swiss bank accounts.

The 81-year-old Hungarian official has stepped aside from his International Weightlifting Federation duties while Canadian law professor Richard McLaren leads the investigation.

Ajan has been an honorary member of the IOC since 2010 and previously was a full member for 10 years.

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