Stab Magazine | Will Surfing be Included in the 2020 Olympics?

Will Surfing be Included in the 2020 Olympics?

All signs point to yes… and you thought the WSL was nationalistic. 

news // Apr 13, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

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.

When it happens, you can be sure not only Brazilian flags will come out to play. Photo: WSL

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.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Tahiti Preview: The End Of The Road For 72% Of The CT

And hello there, blob of swell.

Aug 12, 2022


While Everyone Flocked To Tahiti, Kelly Stayed in Jbay

...And proceeded to rip the hell out of it on a "borrowed" 5-finned Tomo.

Aug 11, 2022


Can A GQ Cover Boy Take Out Teahupo’o?

Kauli Vaast is your incredibly handsome Tahiti trials winner.

Aug 11, 2022

Watch: Ramble On With Caity Simmers 

An action-rich tour behind the scenes of her triumphant first voyage to Oz.

Aug 11, 2022

PSA: Surf Filmers Not Welcome In Nicaragua

Cameras and drones are being seized on arrival, Stab spoke with two recent visitors.

Aug 11, 2022

Inside The Alternative Surfboard Marketing Machine 

Two of the biz's best — Matt Parker and Blake Peters — spill many beans.

Aug 10, 2022

The Tragic Parallels Between The Murder Of Ricardo Dos Santos & 8x World Jiu Jitsu Champion Leandro Lo

Two Brazilian sporting icons killed brazenly by off-duty police officers.

Aug 9, 2022

The Pick-Up, Vans US Open: In The Belly Of The Beast

Finger flips, shaping with Zion Wright, slurpees, Hawaiian takeovers, and the king of Surfline rewinds.

Aug 8, 2022

Albee Layer Discusses His Not-So-Budding Acting Career And The Upcoming Film “Sweet Adventure”

"Matt and Nora were tripping a little harder than I was just because they weren't…

Aug 8, 2022

Zeke Lau & Bettylou Sakura Johnson Win The Vans US Open Of Surfing 

Hawaii dominates HB.

Aug 8, 2022

How A Former CT Surfer Gets “Absolute Beginners” Barreled In A Matter Of Months

Luke Stedman elaborates on his Blackball surf programs.

Aug 7, 2022


Sweeter Than Stolen Honey 

A versatile Haydenshapes x Dylan Graves HP (and soft board) tested in weird waves.

Aug 7, 2022

15-Year-Old Ladybird Erin Brooks Makes Final In All-Men’s Tuberiding Event

And Clay Marzo takes the dub.

Aug 6, 2022

Are We Looking At Reef Sculpting The Wrong Way? 

The pros, cons, possibilities, and mechanisms of changing reefs to suit our surfing desires.

Aug 6, 2022

The Gudang Trio Discusses Brotherhood And How To Make It To The Mountain Top Together  

Positive sibling vibrations we should all aspire to.

Aug 6, 2022


Everyone’s Local Zone Has A Mythical Wave

Kai Lenny, Imaikalani DeVault, Eli Hanneman and friends get to surf theirs.

Aug 5, 2022

The Pick-Up, Vans US Open: Harry Bryant Vs. The Wedge

A lot of swell, stolen identities, surf masochists, mutilated noses, The Wedge, skull-crushing pylons, and…

Aug 5, 2022

When Gabby And Kolohe Pull Out, The Hog Pulls In

Tahiti wildcards named.

Aug 5, 2022