Stab Magazine | Huntington Beach To Be An Olympic Venue?
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Huntington Beach To Be An Olympic Venue?

Olympic surfing takes a step behind the Orange Curtain.

news // Apr 30, 2017
Words by James Royce
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Huntington Beach, Surf City USA. Crowded, expansive beaches, volleyball courts, a plethora of surf shops, steaming boardwalks, warm weather, plenty of paid parking and a Duke’s branded restaurant. Home of Brett Simpson and the occasional riot. A place both the general public and larger media points and stares at and says, “Now that is the quintessential surf town,” despite what we may say otherwise.

And the future site of Olympic surfing, potentially. In a months time, Orange County’s eminent coastal urban enclave will present its case for why it deserves to be the official venue and “surfing village” for the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games, which Los Angeles is currently being considered for. Specifically, five hundred surfers will paddle out and around the pier, forming a “Surfing Circle of Honour” in hopes of grabbing the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) attention.

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Just replace “US Open Of Surfing” with “LA 2024” and Vans with NBC and you’ll have a clearer picture of what’s in store.

It’s an idea drawn up by Diana Dehm, the executive director of the International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach. Dehm has been working closely with both city officials and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and believes the circle will persuade the IOC to consider Huntington Beach for all 2024 Olympic surfing events.

For context (should one of surfing’s biggest competitive ethical debates recently slipped your mind): Surfing will be included in the Olympics for the first time in 2020. With events being held at Tsurigasanki Beach, on the Chiba prefecture of Japan. It will feature 40 surfers, 20 male and 20 female, from several nations. And there will only be a shortboard division.

But after Japan, the location of the next Olympic surfing venue is up in the air. Which is where LA, and subsequently, Huntington Beach, comes in.

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Eric Garcetti: Mayor of Los Angeles and the man who would bring the Olympic podium to the sands of Huntington Beach. Photo: AP Photo.

A bit of background: Los Angeles has yet to be officially awarded the title of host city by the IOC. But with 2024 being the 40 year anniversary of the 1984 LA Olympic games, and the city already in possession of adequate infrastructure for any and all events (you’re never short a stadium when you have nine major professional sports teams), Mayor Garcetti is confident the City of Angels will beat out Paris (the only other city in contention) for the official bid.

“We don’t have to build a single permanent new venue,” Garcetti told the General Assembly of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations in Denmark earlier this month. “Just like our bid, our games will be privately funded and privately managed (America: The bastion of capitalism!), free of government interference. 

“LA 2024 will achieve two very important goals: Minimise financial and execution risk, and maximise the experience for each of your sports at the games. And finally, we can help create a new Olympic connection to the world’s youth with the incredible intersection of new media, technology, and Hollywood storytelling found only in California.” 

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An artist’s rendering of what the Olympic surfing venue would look like, where’s the pier?

A screenplay that will step behind the Orange Curtain for some scenes, should Garcetti’s Olympic vision be put into production. Which places plenty of pressure on Huntington Beach, as it’ll have to live up to the expectations of viewer experience and top of the line action (here’s to hoping the moody south swells of summertime California are on tap in seven years) as promised by the ambitious mayor. 

But, like Garcetti, Dehm is optimistic. She believes the circle of honour will be the biggest event in Huntington Beach yet. Already, she’s been raising funds and recruiting local pros to aid with its promotion.

The paddle out will happen on June 20, in accordance with International Surfing Day. An official decision on whether or not LA will hold the 2024 games, which would consequently make Huntington Beach the surfing venue, won’t be made until September. So, until then, maybe they can start prepping by giving whoever wins the US Open a gold medal? Or stop prolonging the inevitable and make an official announcement on Kelly Slater being the flag carrier for the opening ceremonies?

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