As we’ve reported, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are set to feature surfing. However, there has been much speculation as to who will get to surf in the Olympics and the process in which the chosen athletes will be decided upon.
Two days ago on December 20, 2017, the International Surfing Association (ISA) and the World Surf League (WSL) realized an agreement on the fundamentals for Olympic qualification procedures of surfers for the 2020 Olympic Games. The proposed plan helps the WSL ensure participation of top WSL surfers while the ISA looks to establish global representation for surfers around the world.
The WSL has been a major part in ensuring surfing’s acceptance into the Olympic Games, with their ongoing push for the mainstream attention of the Championship Tour (think, surfing WSL events on MSNBC World Wide Sports, on cable TV in Australia, ESPN, and other big media outlets).
The Championship Tour, although some disagree with their qualification process, does host the worlds best surfers. With that being said it is necessary that we see some of them in the Olympics since even Slater could have an off day surfing an Olympic qualification event.
The ISA has always pushed for inclusiveness, they’re ensuring that other surfers (non-CT) get their equal chance at representing their country on the worlds biggest stage.
The Olympic qualification procedures are that 18 of the 40 places at the Games will be reserved for WSL Championship Tour surfers (10 men and eight women), with the remaining 22 slots determined at the 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, and a single slot (each for men and women) for the host nation of Japan.
The ISA eligibility rules state that for Olympic participation the surfers will be required to make themselves available for their national teams for the ISA World Surfing Games. This includes WSL surfers with conflicting tour responsibilities, but the WSL is supportive of this decision.
These proposed Olympic qualification procedures require the approval of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). A meeting is scheduled for sometime in February 2018.
This collaboration between these two governing bodies in surfing (WSL & ISA), is a landmark decision that gives surfing a proper leg to stand on from the perspective of the IOC, making surfing a legitimate, professional world-class sport.
Here are some words from the decision makers as released by the ISA.
Sage Erickson, WSL CT surfer, and Women’s Athlete Rep, Said:
“It’s great that the WSL and the ISA have agreed on a qualification path for the Olympics in 2020. It’s a major opportunity for the sport and we need to make the most of it. Showcasing the sport with the world’s best surfers, in the best waves possible, is something we’re all in agreement on.”
WSL CEO, Sophie Goldschmidt, said:
“The Olympics offers an incredible platform for any sport and surfing stands to benefit from this massive opportunity in 2020 and, hopefully, beyond. It is essential for surfing to showcase its best possible surfing through this opportunity and that requires the world’s best surfers from the Championship Tour to participate. It’s great that the ISA and WSL, in conversation with the athletes, could come to an agreement on the qualification process for 2020. We look forward to enhancing the partnership as we get closer to this fantastic opportunity.”
ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, said:
“We are happy to reach this historic agreement with the WSL on the participation of their top stars in the Olympic Games and ISA World Surfing Games. The support, endorsement, and collaboration of the WSL and its top professional surfers have always been an important part of our Olympic pathway to Tokyo 2020 and beyond.
“This agreement not only underlines our commitment to have the world’s best athletes competing for gold in Surfing’s debut in Tokyo but also to ensure that the competitions reflect the open access and universality of our sport around the world, in all five continents.
“We are also very pleased to have the WSL’s full support of and commitment to the ISA World Surfing Games between now and 2020. The participation of the top professionals in their national teams will elevate the surfing to new heights, creating additional excitement and drama in the lead-up to the Olympic Games.”