On August 3, 2016, the International Olympic Committee decided to include surfing into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Now, the International Surfing Association (ISA), is hoping to bring Para Surfing to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. They’ve already been recognized as the International Federation of Para Surfing by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Recently the ISA submitted a “Declaration of Intent” to the IPC to include surfing as an official Paralympic sport. Showing their dedication to having Para Surfing recognized at this level.
Para Surfing is rapidly growing, and the ISA is committed to creating an environment where everyone’s involved. Fernando Aguerre, ISA President, said it best: “The ISA is committed to inclusion, at any level, and that is why Para Surfing is so important to us. Everyone deserves the chance to surf, and I am excited to continue this process with the IPC.”
The ISA has been a major part of growing the sport on a competitive level. They’ve motivated a handful of other Federations to start-up in countries like France, Australia, Hawaii, Brazil, Chile, and South Africa. These nations hold their own National Championships as qualification events. For the past two years, the ISA has invited them to the Stance ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championships. Each year the event has seen more and more competitors and spectators alike. In 2015 they began with 69 athletes from 18 different countries. This year, in 2017, they expect to have over 100 athletes from 25 countries. Including separate women’s divisions for the first time.
Just like the WSL has a rulebook and points system, the ISA developed one for themselves; as well as an Adaptive Surfing Classification System which is overseen by the ISA Adaptive Surfing Advisory Board.
In February 2018, The IPC will decide which International Federations fulfill the application requirements to be considered for Phase Two of their application process. They will name which sports meet the technical requirements for the games the following September. They plan to make a final decision on new additions to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Sports Programme in January 2019.
Fernando is ecstatic over the push to have Para Surfers be recognized on such a great stage:
“This is another historic moment for the ISA. We are committed to the development of Para Surfing and to see it included in the Sports Programme at Paris 2024 would be an incredible success.”
He has also mentioned that the performance level of Para Surfers is exceptionally high and how competition pushes the athletes on a deeper level. “The growth of the sport in the last few years has been inspiring to see, and we are stoked to see where we can take it in the future. Adaptive Surfing is a vibrant sport infused with youthful energy and high-performance qualities that we think would add great value to the Paralympic Games.”