The Paris 2024 Organising Committee rejected proposal for Surfing. GETTY IMAGES

A seemingly innovative proposal by the International Surfing Association (ISA) to the Paris 2024 organisers - to use a virtual approach to avoid building the controversial tower that has raised environmental concerns and opposition from environmental groups - has been rejected.

Just when it looked like things were settling down after a sensible proposal from the ISA to use technology to judge surfing, including land, air, and water footage from drones, nothing has come of it and the issue continues. 

The controversial construction of the judging tower for the Paris 2024 surfing event in Teahupo'o, a village on the French Pacific island of Tahiti in French Polynesia, will go ahead despite ongoing protests from environmentalists and an online petition signed by 230,000 people. 

But Tony Estanguet, president of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee since January 2018, rejected the ISA's offer, as did Polynesian leader Moetai Brotherson.

France's Aelan Vasst surfs at the 2023 Shiseido Tahiti Pro in Teahupo'o. GETTY IMAGES
France's Aelan Vasst surfs at the 2023 Shiseido Tahiti Pro in Teahupo'o. GETTY IMAGES

Estanguet, a three-time Olympic canoe champion, explained that the ISA's proposal had been studied and found to be unfeasible on several fronts. He said they would respect the almost unanimous decision of the locals to go ahead with the construction: "It was considered unfeasible on several fronts," citing technical challenges in filming and security concerns.

Etienne Thobois, the CEO of Paris 2024, stressed the urgency of starting the work, which has now been approved. Moetai Brotherson, the president of Polynesia and a member of the Tavini Huiraatira party, has set measures to ensure that the new aluminium tower is completed by 13 May, in time for a World Surf League (WSL) event that is considered a dress rehearsal for the Olympics.

The controversy over the environmental impact of the surf judging tower at the Paris 2024 Olympics continues. If the ISA, with its expertise in the sport, proposed an innovative judging system that would be fair and in line with the IOC's sustainability goals, why is the Organising Committee rejecting it? Accepting it would have silenced the environmental  concerns that will persist until the competition and resolved the main issue raised by the new tower - the partial or total destruction of valuable marine life.