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Surfing at the Olympics: ready to go!

Surfing at the Olympics: ready to go!

Surfing will make its debut appearance in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Here's how this quintessential summer sport will form part of the Olympics.

Five events

By decision of the International Olympic Committee, five sports will enter the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, namely: karate, sport climbing, skateboarding, baseball/softball, and surfing. The latter is certainly the most amazing of the new Olympic disciplines. Firstly, because there are few places on the planet where one can practice this discipline: the organizing country must not only have access to the sea, but also have spots with sufficiently large waves to be able to stage a surfing event. There was a lot of discussion about where in Japan the first surfing session in the history of the Olympic Games would be held. For a long time, it was thought that the competition would take place in a large wave pool because the summer season, when the Games are held, is not a very good time for surfing in Japan. Ultimately, the organizers decided that the events would be held at Tsurigasaki Beach on the Pacific coast. This spot, located about 60 km south of Tokyo, has already hosted surfing competitions. The event will have a window of opportunity of just over fifteen days from July 24 to August 9, 2020.

Several French surfing spots

France has nothing to worry about in this respect. On the contrary, it boasts some fantastic surfing spots. And we know that the three main spots – namely Hossegor, Lacanau and Biarritz – are currently campaigning to host the Olympic events.

Selection criteria

The difficulty in introducing a new discipline lies in defining, first of all, the eligibility criteria and, secondly, the qualification methods. Eligibility criteria are not universal; the criteria used for participating in the Olympic Games are not the same as those used for participating in the World Surfing Championships. For example, Tahitians, who are very strong in surfing – and for good reason, Tahiti is an outstanding surfing spot – will not be able to compete for Tahiti, as usual in surfing competitions, but will be competing under the French flag.
The tests will be evenly matched: twenty men and twenty women will compete for the Olympic medals. A maximum of two athletes per gender will be qualified by National Olympic Committees. Only Japan is certain to have one competitor. The other countries will have to earn their places in two major events: the ISA World Surfing Games in 2019 and 2020. The top four men and the top six women will be eligible. The top man and woman from Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania will also be eligible. The other qualifying event will be the 2019 World Surf League Championship Tour. In this case, the top ten men and the top eight women will be eligible. Finally, the top finisher in men’s and women’s events in the 2019 Pan American Games will also be eligible for selection to the Tokyo Olympics, which will focus attention, other than spotlight of the mass media, on these events. In this way, the world’s very best surfers will be present at the Olympic Games.

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