Tokyo have agreed to the idea of a number of new sports at the Olympics in 2020, including Surfing and Skateboarding.
This doesn’t mean that surfing is officially in yet, but the Tokyo games organisers have recommended its addition, along with baseball/softball, karate, sport climbing, and skateboarding. The surfing would and have 40 participants, 20 male and 20 female and would be shortboard only.
The International Surfing Association (ISA) president Fernando Aguerre said: “Tokyo 2020’s announcement is an extraordinary moment for our sport and for the global surfing community.
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Gaining participation in the games is a big achievement for the International Surfing Association, and president, Fernando Aguirre. He went on to say: “Surfing has incredible and growing global appeal, particularly amongst young people.
“It embodies a cool, playful lifestyle that would add a completely new element to the program, helping the Games reach new fans through live action and stunning broadcast opportunities.”
It is thought that successful artificial venues would boost surfing’s chances of Olympic inclusion. However, one independent advisor at the Leaders summit told SportBusiness International that the ISA’s ‘wave garden’ model is not the only one being put forward to the IOC and Tokyo. “They will be putting forward both options to stage the sport – the wave garden format and also the ocean beach format.”
It is unlikely that they will be able to schedule the ocean beach format of surfing into the games, given the need for a cohesion of the elements, surfing requires tide and wind to all collaborate together.
Therefore, there is a high chance that it will happen within artificial venues, such Surf Snowdonia in Wales. A new artificial surf lagoon opened in north Wales, able to simulate waves. Many of the purists of the sport disagree, including Chas Smith from the DailyBeast.
He claims: “Broadcast opportunities won’t be stunning because the action will be taking place in a chlorine bathtub.
“The game ain’t the same as proper ocean surfing. To be surf champ you must master both giant, very scary, very dangerous waves as well as smaller fun ones.”
As for the introduction of wave pools, they can be an expensive investment, with Surf Snowdonia costing up to a reported £15 million. With a typical ‘wave garden’ costing around $8 million dollars before the cost of land acquisition. The investors have also encountered mechanical issues and so shut eight weeks early for the winter. They argue, the games will place in the summer therefore, this will not be an issue.
The World Surf League (WSL) Press release stated; “We are pleased that surfing has been recommended for inclusion in the 2020 Games by the Tokyo Olympic Organisers,” said Kieren Perrow, Commissioner of the World Surf League, the sport’s global professional governing body.
“Surfing’s international growth over the past few years, its loyal and enthusiastic fans combined with its globally recognised athletes makes it an ideal sport to showcase on the Olympic stage. We’re excited to show billions of Olympic viewers the athleticism and artistry of these world-class surfers.”
The ISA and WSL however, see the investment within the sport as crucial to its progression, as if surfing becomes an Olympic discipline it will receive much greater funding which is crucial to the development of the sport in the future.
The IOC still has to formally approve the inclusion of any of these new sports, and will announce its final decision in August 2016 during the summer games in Brazil.