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Reader Question: Why is the Paris Olympic surfing in Tahiti?

Map enthusiasts will note that Tahiti is not very near Paris, in fact it's more than 15,000km away, so why will the 2024 Paris Olympics surfing competition be held there?

Reader Question: Why is the Paris Olympic surfing in Tahiti?
A surfer rides a huge wave at Teahupo’o. (Photo: Tim McKenna / AFP)

Question: I understand that not all Olympic events are held in the host city itself – sailing for example – but why is the surfing for the 2024 Games being held in Tahiti? That’s hardly the nearest place to Paris that has waves!

The 2024 Olympic Games in Paris are less than two years away – you may have seen the recent video that went viral on social media. 

Most events will take place in and around Paris. Stade de France, in Saint-Denis, is the main venue, with Roland Garros and La Defense Arena also hosting competitions, as well as city locations like the Champ-de-Mars and Place de la Concorde. 

Equestrian events will take place in the opulent surroundings of Versailles, just outside the city.

According to Organising Committee for the Olympic Games chairman Tony Estanguet: “80 percent of venues will be within 30 minutes of the Olympic Village, and 24 sports in a 10km radius around the Village”. 

Some sports will, however, take place elsewhere. Sailing competitions will be held in Marseille for obvious, practical reasons. Rowing events are in Vaires-sur-Marne. Lille has won the right to host the handball competitions, while some football matches will take place at stadia outside the capital.

But the surfing events have set a new record for Olympic venues. They will be held 15,716km away from host city Paris, in the seas off Teahupo’o, Tahiti.

This location is French, it’s part of French Polynesia and France’s overseas territories – which exist in the Pacific, Indian Ocean, Caribbean and elsewhere – are considered as much a part of France as Brittany, Corsica and Marseille.

READ ALSO ‘Confetti of an empire’ – France’s overseas territories

But no Olympic medal competition has been held so far away from the host city – though the 1956 Melbourne Games’ equestrian events come close. Because of Australian quarantine laws at the time, the equestrian competition was held some 15,589km away, in Stockholm, Sweden, five months before those Games officially opened.

Despite this precedent, the Paris 2024 board needed approval from the International Olympic Committee to host the event so far from the city.

There is good reason for this latest decision, beyond the fact Teahupo’o is a go-to location for serious surfers. 

Paris was, clearly, out as an option and while France does have high quality locations along the Atlantic coast – Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes and La Torche were all considered – the level of surf is far from guaranteed when the Games take place in July and August.

There is no such problem with the surf in Tahiti, where the strongest swells are between April and October. This is the level of challenge competitors are likely to face at the venue known as “The Wall of Skulls”.

It’s a very different board game to the inaugural Olympic surfing competition in Japan, where the surf was much smaller at Shidashita, 40km east of Tokyo, as the sport aims to become a permanent fixture at the games.

The choice of venue for 2024 had “overwhelming support” from the International Surfing Association (ISA) when it was confirmed in 2020. 

At the time, Chair of the ISA Athletes’ Commission Justine Dupont said: “As an athlete there is no greater achievement than competing at the Olympic Games and amongst the surfers there is huge excitement about Paris 2024, especially with Tahiti as the location.

“In surfing, Teahupo’o is a sacred place, rich in history and tradition and, without a doubt, one of the most exciting, consistent waves in the world for our sport.”

Tahiti and Polynesia in general has its own rich surfing culture that easily pre-dates French involvement in the area, the English explorer Captain James Cook visited Tahiti in the 1770s and produced what is believed to be the first written description of surfing after observing the locals enjoying the activity.

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MONEY

Reader Question: Why did my French electricity bill increase by more than 4%?

The French government has capped electricity prices rises at four percent - but as with many French rules, there are certain exceptions.

Reader Question: Why did my French electricity bill increase by more than 4%?

Question: I read in the media that electricity prices in France are capped at four percent, but I just got a letter from EDF telling me that my bill is going up by almost 20 percent – is this a mistake?

The French government’s bouclier tarifaire (tariff shield), froze gas prices at 2021 levels and capped electricity price hikes to four percent – it remain in place until at least the end of 2022.

However, there are some customers who will see increases to their bills of more than that – here’s why: 

The regulated tariff rate

The French government involvement in price-setting doesn’t just happen during periods of energy crisis, normally regulated tariff prices are updated twice a year: usually on February 1st and August 1st.

Typically, this value is calculated by the CRE (commission de régulation de l’énergie) and it is based on several different factors, which are explained on this government website. These tariffs proposed by the CRE are then subject to approval by the ministers in charge of energy and the economy.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why are French energy prices capped?

These affect the state-owned Engie (formerly Gaz de France), the mostly state-owned EDF and some local distribution companies. Around 70 percent of people in France get their electricity from EDF but other suppliers do exist in the market.

These alternative suppliers, like Direct-Énergie, Total Spring or Antargaz, are free to charge more – but don’t usually charge much above the EDF rates for obvious commercial reasons.

Basic rate

The government-set limit in price rises refers only to the basic rate (option base) for electricity.

This plan represents over 80 percent of the 32 million households connected to the electricity grid in France. So, there is a good chance you might be subscribed to this without even realising it. 

If you are on the basic tariff rate, your bill will not increase by more than four percent this year.

Other tariff options

However, other options for electricity bills do exist, including off-peak rates, green deals and fixed energy prices for a certain period.

Typically people who sign up for these will have been paying less for their electricity in the preceding months than those on the base rate.

However, there are certain special deals that are not covered by the four percent cap, and some users will find that their deal period has come to an end, they are then shifted onto the base rate – which is likely to represent a price increase for them of more than four percent.

It’s little consolation when faced with rising bills, but you will likely have been paying significantly less than customers who have been in the base rate for the past few years.

READ MORE: French government to continue energy price freeze until at least 2023

Kilowatt price

Because most electricity price plans are bafflingly complicated, the easiest way to compare is to look at the price per kilowatt-hour.

Your electricity bill consists of a fixed part, the monthly subscription (abonnement) and the variable part, which depends on the quantity of electricity consumed (in euro per kilowatt-hour, kWh). The latter part is what is concerned by the tariff shield of four percent.

Here is an example of what that might look like:

The mid-August base rate price per kilowatt-hour is €0.1740/ kWh, so if you’re with EDF they cannot charge you more than this rate.

Other EDF plans charge significantly less than that – for example the Vert Electrique Weekend deal has been charging €0.1080/kWh on weekends and €0.1434/kWh on weekdays. 

Bill rises

With the tariff shield, the average resident customer on the base rate will see a €38 rise on their bill this year, while professional customers will see an average of €60 rise. 

Without the tariff shield, electricity prices per residential (non-business) customer would likely have increased an average of €330 a year, according to the CRE.

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