Stab Magazine | Confirmed: The Olympics Will Be Held In The Ocean

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Confirmed: The Olympics Will Be Held In The Ocean

After months of pool speculation, surfing’s Olympic debut has been guaranteed an ocean birth.

news // May 23, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Founders Cup is complete, the Waco resort provides 40 ramps an hour, but the 2020 Olympics won’t be taking place in the even playing field of a pool, it will be held in a good old-fashioned unpredictable ocean. 

At the end of last year, rumours were running hot suggesting that the 2020 Olympics Games might hold its surfing event in a wavepool; whilst others sources suggested that our wavepool wet-dreams were mistaken and the Olympic surfing debut would take place where surfing first began – the ocean. 

Today, that speculation (and hope for many) finally died. 

“With the support of the ISA, the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organisers have determined that surfing will take place in the ocean in Tokyo”. Fernando Aguerre, the president of the ISA told AFP on Tuesday.

Well, not exactly in Tokyo, but Tsurigasaki Beach, which is around 60 kilometres South East of Tokyo and was the location first announced as the Olympic venue all the way back in 2016.

In November last year, it was rumoured that the WSL had been scoping the Tokyo region for suitable wavepool laying land. Improvements were also rumoured to have been suggested to the KS Surf Ranch team, by a “major client” in order to allow the pool to provide more consistent waves at a faster rate, allowing for a “major competition”; ISA president, Aguerre, told Stab that “the IOC and Japan can change their minds if they want to” when approached about the Olympics wavepool potential.” 

Outside of our own rumour-mill, WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt had also suggested that the Olympic committee consider utilising the WSL’s wavepool technology for the Olympics, due to the severe lack of swell renowned during Japanese summers. 

Wavepools, however, appeared to solve more than the issue of sloppy summer swell; they also resolve surfing’s persistent problems with extraneous variables.

There’s no wave selection, close-outs or buzzer beaters in a pool. There’s regimented ride counts, identical waves and near-mirrored lefts and rights. And for a controlled competitive environment such as the Olympics, an in-ground wave generator seemed the ideal solution. 

Since a pool event won’t be the case though, the surfing event is scheduled to run for the entirety of the Olympics period – July 24th to August 9th. And no, this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to tune into typhoon swell action every day of the Games, instead, the scheduling allows for an extended waiting period to run in the event in the best conditions possible.

There’s only 20 male and 20 female competitors in surfing’s Olympic debut, with a maximum of three surfers from each country, therefore it’s likely that the event will be run in two days or less. And with Davey Cathels being a previous winner back in 2010 (above), surely he’s a shoe in for selection in the 2020 Games only a decade later. 

Despite wavepool lovers mourning the world over (most notably, Michael Ciaramella), Fernando Aguerre, did suggest that the ISA will continue scoping artificial alternatives in the future:

“The ISA has long been a supporter and advocate for wavepool technology, we are interested to learn of any developments of this kind, and obviously we stay in touch with surfing colleagues on all new initiatives which help in the development of our great sport.”

So Parisians, keep those eyes peeled for the likes of Kelly Slater and Sophie Goldschmidt lurking the city for a wavepool location before the 2024 Games. 


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