Last-Second Olympian Carlos Muñoz Is In Route To Japan — Will He Make It On Time? - Stab Mag

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Last-Second Olympian Carlos Muñoz Is In Route To Japan — Will He Make It On Time?

Jorts are presumably at the ready.

news // Jul 24, 2021
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Yesterday, we reported that Portugal’s Frederico Morais was being forced to pull out of the Olympics due to a positive covid test two days before the opening ceremony.

This was an absolute shocker for Freddy, but it provided a huge opportunity for the next surfer in line, which, according to the fancy ISA rubric below, was meant to be Italy’s Angelo Bonomelli.

We DMed Angelo yesterday to see how he felt about the news, but more than anything, Angelo was confused. “I hope I can still make it there,” Angelo said. “I am in Costa Rica and they haven’t called me up yet. I don’t know what they are waiting for.”

Today, we woke up to posts from our new Costa Rican friends (watch episode one of Vans Stab High Central America presented by Monster Energy here) who were ecstatic about their countryman Carlos Muñoz getting a last-second call-up to the Games.

Curious as to how this had happened, we reached out to an ISA representative with the following message:

Could you please provide some info as to how Carlos Muñoz was granted Frederico Morais’ spot in the Olympics?  With Frederico pulling out, we understood that Italy’s Angelo Bonomelli be next in line. However, it appears Angelo was passed over and instead Carlos got the spot. Any details about how or why this happened would be great.

The ISA representative responded:

Italy’s NOC did not accept the vacant slot for Bonomelli. We then kept going down the list and all potential European surfers were not on the “long list” — a list that NOCs submits well in advance of surfers that would be eligible for the Games. Since there was no one in the top 30 quality control we go back to the top regardless of continent and that was Carlos. 

Italy not accepting an Olympic slot on Angelo’s behalf seemed unconscionable, but Angelo confirmed it in our DMs. “Even if I could get there, the Italian Olympic Committee didn’t accept the offer yet because I don’t have some test from Italy…”

Guess they’re still too busy celebrating their Euro Cup win to assist their burgeoning surf team.

After the ISA determined Carlos was the next surfer in line, they tried frantically to get him en route to Japan. With just a day and a half until the surfing window opened, they knew they’d have to act fast if Carlos was going to arrive in time to compete.

Carlos was on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica when this was all going down, chasing clips for his part in the upcoming Snapt4 film. A rainstorm had caused severe flooding and erosion on the treacherous roads back to San Jose (where Costa Rica’s major airport resides), leaving him stuck in place.

That’s when Costa Rica, not for the first time in Carlos’s career, kicked into high gear. People started pledging boats, helicopters, and all other manner of transportation to get Carlos out of the flooded terrain and onto the first Japan-bound flight. Somehow he ended up hitching a ride in a firetruck (which was the only car allowed on the road), stopping at a hospital to secure his PCR test, and being delivered directly to the airport.

Then came the ticket situation, which was fairly dire. The best apparent option would get Carlos to Japan on July 26th — the day after surfing was scheduled to start. That’s where Carlos’s partner Tamara came in. She was scrolling Kayak, Expedia, and Google Flights while on the phone with every airline in the western world, trying to find a faster route.

“Eventually, we were able connect a few different itineraries to get him there earlier. It was like a gift from God,” Tamara told us. “But it’s going to be tight.”

Carlos is currently on an LA-bound flight from San Jose, CR. Upon landing, he’ll have an hour to get through immigration, collect his bags, and re-check-in for his Japan-bound flight. If everything goes smoothly, he’ll arrive in Japan at 10 pm on the night of July 25th, which still has him missing the first day of scheduled competition.

Whether or not they run the competition on the 25th depends on the ocean conditions. The first round is technically non-elimination, so as long as they don’t run two rounds of the men’s competition, Carlos should still be in contention to advance to the medal rounds.

If I’m an Olympic organizer, I’m doing anything I can to make sure Carlos gets to compete. Surfing is an inherently boring sport to watch, with all of its sitting and waiting and endless lulls, but this is a genuinely intriguing storyline — something any Olympic viewer can get behind.

It’s a race against time, a man with nothing to lose, the potential for the greatest Olympic story ever told. Damn those Jamaican bobsledders.

It should also be noted that there is a precedent for this type of situation. In 2019, due to a passport snafu that resulted in Italo Ferreira missing his flight, the Brazilian arrived at the contest venue with nine minutes left in his heat, paddled out on Filipe Toledo’s board while wearing a pair jorts, and managed to win his heat handily. He then went on to win the entire event with a 10 in the final.

Could the same fate await our Tico pal, Mr. Carlos Muñoz? We sure hope so, but only time will tell.



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