The International Surfing Association (ISA) announced an agreement with the World Surf League (WSL) on the qualification principles for surfing in the Olympics Games in Tokyo 2020, ensuring the participation of the world’s best surfers from the WSL Championship Tour (CT) as well as promoting universal opportunities for surfers around the world.
In principle, the agreement will see up to 18 of the 40 places at the Games reserved for WSL Championship Tour (CT) surfers (10 men and eight women), with the remaining 22 places determined at the 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, and a single slot (each for men and women) for the host nation (Japan).
With the support of the WSL, the ISA eligibility rules for Olympic participation will require surfers to make themselves available for their national teams to compete in the ISA World Surfing Games in 2019 and 2020 and, if selected by their National Federation, to participate.
The final decision on the complete process is subject to the approval of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at its meeting in February 2018.
The agreement between the ISA and the WSL reinforces both organizations’ commitment to the successful Olympic debut for surfing, showcasing a strong collaboration between an IOC-recognized International Olympic Federation and the professional home of the world’s best surfers.
Surfing was confirmed as an Olympic sport for Tokyo 2020 in August of 2016 after decades of campaigning by the ISA for the global development of surfing. Surfing will also be included in the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima. This campaign has been buoyed by the continued improvement in high-performance surfing and mainstream attention of the WSL Championship Tour.
ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, said:
“We are happy to reach this historic agreement with the WSL on the participation of their top stars in the Olympic Games and ISA World Surfing Games. The support, endorsement and collaboration of the WSL and its top professional surfers has always been an important part of our Olympic pathway to Tokyo 2020 and beyond.
“This agreement not only underlines our commitment to have the world’s best athletes competing for gold in Surfing’s debut in Tokyo, but also to ensure that the competitions reflect the open access and universality of our sport around the world, in all five continents.
“We are also very pleased to have the WSL’s full support of and commitment to the ISA World Surfing Games between now and 2020. The participation of the top professionals in their national teams will elevate the surfing to new heights, creating additional excitement and drama in the lead-up to the Olympic Games.”
WSL CEO, Sophie Goldschmidt, said:
“The Olympics offers an incredible platform for any sport and surfing stands to benefit from this massive opportunity in 2020 and, hopefully, beyond. It is essential for surfing to showcase its best possible surfing through this opportunity and that requires the world’s best surfers from the Championship Tour to participate. It’s great that the ISA and WSL, in conversation with the athletes, could come to an agreement on the qualification process for 2020. We look forward to enhancing the partnership as we get closer to this fantastic opportunity.”
WSL CT surfer and Men’s Athlete Rep, Adrian Buchan, said:
“Surfing has the ability to reinvigorate the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. The athletes are excited to showcase their skills on the world’s biggest sporting platform and the opportunity for surfing to be recognized as truly professional sport.”
WSL CT surfer and Women’s Athlete Rep, Sage Erickson, said:
“It’s great that the WSL and the ISA have agreed on a qualification path for the Olympics in 2020. It’s a major opportunity for the sport and we need to make the most of it. Showcasing the sport with the world’s best surfers, in the best waves possible, is something we’re all in agreement on.”
The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. The ISA governs and defines Surfing as Shortboard, Longboard & Bodyboarding, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 103 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro. The ISA’s four Vice-Presidents are Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL).
Photo courtesy of International Surfing Association