Stab Magazine | Surfing all but locked for Japan 2020
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Surfing all but locked for Japan 2020

But, not in an artificial lineup.

news // Jun 3, 2016
Words by Words
Reading Time: 2 minutes

In news sort of related to the Kelly Slater Wave Pool hype train but not really; it looks like Surfing is all but formally a lock for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But, it won’t be in a pool.

New guidelines introduced in 2014 allow host cities to hand pick sports popular in their host nations that are capable of attracting a younger audience and boosting ratings, with the International Olympic Committee board voting in favour of Tokyo 2020’s proposal to add five sports to the existing core of 28.

Following the recommendation on Wednesday by the IOC, five sports identified as ‘for the kids’ were named including Skateboarding, Sports Climbing, Karate, Softball (gnarly) and Surfing. The sports now await a final nod from the IOC for their inclusion into the games.

Interestingly, Surfing, which will include 20 men and 20 women, will not take place in an artificial pool, icing all current bids by pool owners for inclusion. According to IOC sports director Kit McConnell: “We are looking at a natural beach for surfing. Japan has a number of strong surfing areas and strong existing surfing culture.” Double John at THAT rivermouth, anyone?

No doubt WSL Holdings were looking to capitalise as soon as possible following their recent acquisition (in principle) of Kelly Slater Wave Pools, but any utilisation of the pool in the Olympics is at minimum eight years away. Furthermore, a 20-person field in both the men’s and women’s event suggests that maybe the ISA are far more entrenched here than the WSL, with ISA President Fernando Aguerre saying: “We are thrilled that we are now one step closer to realising our Olympic dream. I’d like to express our sincere thanks to the IOC Executive Board for providing us with this amazing opportunity.”

Given the historic failure of Wave Garden and the likely significant costs to bring KSWC to commercialisation, Kelly may’ve potentially offloaded the biggest white elephant in surfing’s history. The IOC meet again in August to make its final decision.

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