LONDON (Reuters) - The surfing competition at the Paris 2024 Olympics could take place 15,000km away from the French capital in Tahiti under a proposal backed by the International Surfing Association (ISA).
The French Polynesian island in the Pacific Ocean is the preferred option, beating off rival bids from Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes and La Torche, all on the French mainland.
Final approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is still required for the radical move, which would represent the longest distance between an event and the host city at any Olympic Games.
ISA president Fernando Aguerre, who worked with the Paris 2024 organizing committee in evaluating the bids, said holding the 2024 Olympic surfing events on the world-renowned Teahupo’o reef break would provide 'spectacular' conditions.
"We salute the five candidatures, which were all excellent and well-known surf destinations, but Tahiti was truly exceptional in offering our athletes, and our sport, spectacular conditions for optimal competitions," he said.
"For us, Tahiti represents the authenticity of our sport and the ISA's mission to celebrate surfing's unique culture and lifestyle, while also recalling the long history and heritage of our sport from its Polynesian origins.
"Ultimately, our commitment is to the athletes and the sport and we have no doubt that Teahupo’o will offer an amazing platform for the world's best athletes to shine."
Aguerre said he applauded Paris 2024 organizers for their "courage and originality" in making the landmark proposal.
"Surfing is a sport for the new era of the Games and this approach by Paris 2024 demonstrates how our values are aligned. Our sport's connection to the environment also makes Tahiti a fitting choice -- with a bespoke concept that will deliver a sustainable and low carbon impact event."
Next year will see surfing's Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games. The surfing events will take place on four days within an eight-day window at Shidashita Beach, 60km north of Tokyo.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)