Best of AP — Honorable Mention


Cole captures Olympics’ impact on island life in Tahiti in stunning visuals

A worker inspects the permanent foundations being constructed on the coral reef for a judging tower to be used during the Olympic Games surf competition in Teahupo’o, Tahiti, French Polynesia, Jan. 12, 2024. AP PHOTO / DANIEL COLE


Paris-based photographer Daniel Cole traveled to tell a captivating story and capture exclusive visuals that encompassed how Tahiti’s environment and way of life is threatened by the Olympic Games’ decision to host its surfing competition on the island.

On the surface, the island is beautiful, but up close, there’s danger at every turn: From the forceful wave surfers flock to, to coming face-to-face with a shark. Cole captured it all singlehandedly with compelling photos, video and text. Cole traveled to Teahupo’o, a village of 1,500 people in French Polynesia, to tell the story of a village whose lives and cherished environment are threatened to be upended by the Games. He aggressively worked with sources and overcame logistical hurdles during his short time on the island, which earned him a big win: He gained exclusive access to the controversial work on the reef to build a judging tower that some feared would have dire environmental impacts. 

The story included exclusive pictures and footage from Tahiti that the AP and customers can use in Olympic coverage from the island for the entire Games, as access to Tahiti will be limited during the surfing competition.

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