On May 16, ministers of the new Polynesian government appointed the day before, visited residents affected by a flood in Teahupo’o, where the Olympic Games surfing event is due to take place in the summer of 2024 on one of the most powerful waves in the world. On the occasion, the new Polynesian minister of youth and sports, Nahema Temarii, stated that she was considering the possibility of “revoking that commitment.” The Polynesian minister of housing and solidarity Minarii Galenon added, “We can certainly cancel these Olympic Games, but we will have to pay very large amounts” of money.
On May 19, the new Polynesian president, Moetai Brotherson, was however keen to clarify that “the option of not hosting the Games is very restrictive and I think it is not the one we will choose, this is not the spirit that appeals to me .” “I absolutely want these Games to take place here because it is here that surfing was born, not elsewhere,” he added in front of the press in Papeete. “There are discussions we must have with the state on the agreement which was passed by the previous government, there is a supplementary budget approach, where we will have to fulfill our commitments. This will be part of the discussions we will have with the state , but the goal is that the Games take place here,” he said. Elected president on May 12, the independentist often opposed his autonomist predecessor, but not on the organization of the Games.
For Barbara Martins-Nio, responsible for the location of Tahiti within the Paris Organizing Committee for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games (OCOG), the declarations by the sports minister were above all “political positioning: she had to mark out her territory, and that was done in a slightly brutal manner.”
“I have pointed out the agreements that have already been signed: the government, Paris-2024 and the country [French Polynesia] have commitments. The country can reduce the size, by modifying the responsibilities within the commitments already made: there are possible changes to those of the former government,” said Martins-Nio on Friday. But a withdrawal of the candidacy does not seem feasible to her.
For some residents of Teahupo’o, the construction of the new footbridge planned for the Olympic Games contributed to the floods that devastated about 50 houses and swept a dozen cars out to sea in early May. “The water level was high, but the fences aggravated the problem by diverting the flood water, which caused a torrent in front of our houses,” complained Kiki Plantier, a 65-year-old retiree who lost all her household appliances in the flooding .
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