Will Surfing be Included in the 2020 Olympics?
All signs point to yes… and you thought the WSL was nationalistic.
Shuffling into Laguna Beach’s chic African-themed bistro, Mozambique, the movers and shakers that are the surf industry came together last night. Bob McKnight, Richard Woolcott, Paul Naude and Paul Speaker had come to cohort and hear what ISA President Fernando Aguerre had to say.
In the audience, a crowd of 40-plus people, sat delegations from Hurley, O’Neill, Rip Curl, Reef, SIMA, Surfing China, as well as a Shaun Tomson, PT Townend (in pink, of course), Pat O’Connell, Damien Hobgood, young up-and-comer Caroline Marks, wavepool mastermind Tom Lochtefeld, surf philanthropist Spencer Croul, and a bunch of guys in sport coats that probably have a ton of dough. The subject was surfing in the Olympics, and more specifically, how things are progressing for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
In a nutshell, Japan and the IOC are stoked. Surfing is one of five sports that have made the final consideration list. (The others include skateboarding, karate, baseball/softball and sport climbing.) At present all things appear to be on track for surfing’s inclusion. The IOC Executive board votes in June and the special IOC Session group casts the final vote in August, one week before the opening of the Rio Games.
Already this year there’ve been a number of high-level meetings between the IOC, ISA and WSL. The inclusion of surfing into the 2017 Central American Games also served as confirmation of surfing’s rise as an internationally recognized sport.
Maybe more intriguing, Fernando shared what surfing in the Olympics may look like. Salt water is preferable to chlorinated. Holding the Games in the ocean appears to be the most viable option at this time. If Olympic surfing does get to go al naturale, the idea of using the 16-day Olympic period as a waiting period for swell has been floated.
Paul Speaker let it be known that he would “personally commit the best surfers to the 2020 Games.” The WSL now stands in lockstep with the ISA’s pursuit of Olympic inclusion.
After about 30 minutes of talking Fernando passed the mic. Shaun Tomson spoke, as did Damien Hobgood, who brought up a good point.
“This is about giving dreams to as many kids as possible,” said Damo, referring to how many more lives surfing may soon touch.
When it was all said and done and Fernando had finally exhausted himself at the podium, Wooly cheered, “What a journey!”
Indeed. The finish line is in sight. In 1920 Duke Kahanamoku petitioned the IOC to include surfing into the Games. One hundred years later it could finally becoming true. The final vote gets cast the first week of August.
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