Stab Magazine | Interview: The ISA's President Opens Up On Surfing's Olympic Debut

Interview: The ISA’s President Opens Up On Surfing’s Olympic Debut

Fernando Aguerre talks to Reuters a year out from surfing’s inaugural five-ringed performance. 

news // Feb 10, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

We’ve been talking about it for years. In 2008 an Olympic bid for surfing was hastily shut down. In 2016 however, the hopes and dreams of those who’ve always hoped to call surfing a sport were granted. At the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, surfing will make its gold, silver, and bronze medalled debut. 

First we were doobie-smokers, then surfers, now athletes, and soon to be Olympians! 

Despite the WSL being the most authoritative competitive format, the ISA are the organising committee when it comes to the Olympics in 2020. And that means Fernando Aguerre, the ISA’s president, is the most important person heading into surfing’s prestigious inauguration. 

A few days ago, Reuters – and shortly after every other news site – released an interview with the man. 

“It took a long, long time. But eventually things changed in the world and inside the Olympic movement,” Fernando Aguerre, who has been president of the ISA since 1995, told Reuters from his La Jolla base in regards to a more modernised shift within the Olympics.

“Many doors that were locked were opened allowing for a renewal of the Olympic program. You don’t want to be presiding over a movement that is bigger, but not healthy. It needs a more human scale.”

What Fernando was referring to is the overall shift within the Olympic structure. Kids aren’t stinging to pump weights and shoot arrows anymore, and in reality, no one for the last 20 years within the general populace gives a shit about most events on the roster.

The Olympics no longer holds the same allure it once did. The IOC knows that, and to keep the dream, plus the money alive, they’re trying to revamp the event and subsequently our interest. 

Extreme and fun! This is Ryan Callinan doing both at surfing’s Olympic birthplace, Japan. Photo: WSL

You see, surfing (an Extreme sport!) will be joining skating, BMX park, and sport climbing as new sports for 2020. Sports which the IOC believes might rejuvenate the youth’s interest. 

“The IOC has been very clever.” Aguerre told Reuters. “It’s a great selection. It’s like the Olympic Games dinner table needed a good salad and the salad is made of action sports.

“We were in the right place at the right time. We were ready and waxed and preparing for the wave. When it came in we were there to paddle and ride it.”

Another much discussed topic was where the event would be held. For years there were back and forths over whether it would be held in a pool or ocean, and finally, a few months back, the ocean was decided as surfing’s final Olympic birthplace. Tsurigasaki Beach, 40 miles from Tokyo, to be precise. 

“We decided that the beach was the best place,” Aguerre continued.

“We have extra days if needed. The important thing is this is not just a surfing competition, this is the arrival of surfing in the Olympic family. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.By having it on the beach it will be a festival to educate people into surfing, the environment, the threat to the ocean.

“There will be surf-based music, art, all the surfing DNA will be on display. We are ambassadors for the ocean.”

For details on how the Olympic surfing lineup will be determined, head here for our full run down. 


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