Today the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee officially announced that surfing has been shortlisted for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Japan. There will be two events for 20 male surfers and 20 female surfers. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should confirm Toyko's choice for the new sports at the 129th IOC Session, in Rio, in August 2016. Its decision has already been hailed as a "milestone".
The question as to whether surfing should be part of the Olympic games has been a hot debate, as Fernando Aguerre, the current president of the International Surfing Association (ISA) knows well, hehas been fighting tooth and nail for the cause for more than a decade. Aguerre claims "Surfing is truly a global sport, more popular and more widely practiced than many current Olympic sports. Surfing is pursued in every corner of the world, in more than a hundred countries. There are now over 35 million surfers worldwide!"
“Surfing has incredible and growing global appeal, particularly amongst young people, and we believe that the dynamic energy of the sport and its fan base around the world would bring many benefits for Tokyo 2020 and the Games.
“Surfing embodies a cool, playful lifestyle that would add a completely new element to the programme, helping the Games reach new fans through live action and stunning broadcast opportunities.”
In their presentation to Tokyo officials, surfing officials highlighted the sport's "sex appeal" to win over organisers, with the option of implementing cutting-edge artificial wave technology.
For those who have spoken against surfing as an Olympic sport, Aguerre declares "I don't believe that the soul of surfing requires it to be an elite sport for the lucky few who live near the ocean's waves" and surfing in the Olympics will "provide opportunities for the integration of diverse socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, and age groups long after the Games have moved on."
Many pro surfers have supported the cause, Kelly Slater, Gerry Lopez, Mick Fanning, Gabriel Medina amongst others. Their ideal is soon to become reality 100 years after Duke Kahanamoku, the "Father of surfing" won his Gold at the Olympics in Antwerp in 1920.
Photo Koji Sasahara