Earlier today, the International Olympic Committee announced five new additions to the Olympics: surfing, skateboarding, karate, baseball/softball, and sports climbing.
Described as the most “comprehensive evolution” of the Olympic Games to date, the additions are reported to be aimed at “bringing the Games to young people.”
The Olympic plans are said to include the construction of skateboard and sports climbing facilities in an urban setting where the events are planned to be held, said to reflect a trend of “urbanization” of sport.
— ISA (@ISAsurfing) August 3, 2016
“Taken together, the five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games,” IOC President Thomas Bach was quoted.
The press release from the IOC does not provide details on a possible Olympic surfing venue. Under the right conditions, breaks in Japan are said to be comparable to those in Indonesia, but that the country’s surf is fickle, as reported by JapanSurf.com.
Much of the attention of the surfing community has focused on the artificial wave unveiled to the world by 11-time world champ Kelly Slater last December, as previously reported by the Inquisitr. The Olympic surfing event will be held in the ocean, not in man-made waves, as reported by Surfer Magazine.
Now shuttered, Japan was home to the world’s premiere artificial surfing wave for many years, the Seagaia Ocean Dome. The wave was the site of several professional surfing competitions and was said to be visited by 1.25 million people per year at its peak.
Surfing first made an appearance in the Summer Games in 2000, in Sydney, Australia, as reported by the Daily Beast. The 2020 Olympic surfing event will be the first appearance of the Polynesian sport since then. The 2020 games will be the first time skateboarders have appeared.
“It’s not a big deal to us at the mag,” Jaime Owens with Transworld Skateboarding was quoted by GrindTV. “They need skateboarding more than we need them. They just want to make money off of something we love and live for.”
The Olympic surfing competition is expected to feature 20 woman and 20 men and to be held at Chiba Beach, “a 45-minute train ride” from Tokyo and site of several former professional and amateur surfing competitions. Longboards, bodyboards, and stand-up paddleboards will not be included.
“High-performance shortboarding only,” writes Surfer Magazine. It appears that both professional and amateur surfers will be eligible to compete.
Surfer Magazine asked International Surfing Association President Fernando Aguerre, who has been lobbying to have surfing included in the Olympics for over 20 years, about the World Surf League’s purchase of Kelly Slater’s wave pool technology and the assumption that many surfers made that if surfing was selected to be part of the Olympics, that it would be happening in a Kelly Slater pool.
“The IOC does not want to build more ‘white elephants’ — structures that have no use after the Olympics are over,” Aguerre explained. “So the IOC and Tokyo decided that since there are waves nearby, it’s better to do it in the ocean. We’re happy to be in the ocean.”
Aguerre also discussed the 2024 games, the location for which is expected to be announced on September 13, 2017, and what might happen if they are held in a landlocked city. The Reef Brazil co-founder expressed hope that more wave pools capable of accommodating world class surfers will be built by then and that the ISA is “excited” about wave pools.
In total, the Olympic surfing competition is expected to take two full days to run. It is said to be planned that the surfing event will have the entire games as a window in order to increase chances of the surfers encountering favorable conditions.
[Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images]