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Surfing at the Olympics

After lobbying for inclusion into the Olympic Games for many years, surfing was finally accepted onto the program for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, along with four other new sports. It wil again be on the program in 2024, but well away from Paris. The surfing events will be held 15,000km away in French Tahiti.

surfingsurfing has been accepted onto the program for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games

One of the challenges the sport will face is making surfing more spectator-friendly, and also it would be a challenge for a landlocked country without a coastline to host a surfing event. Even if there was a coastal area, it does not mean that good surf could be guaranteed. This may mean that at some time in the future Olympic surfing would require the construction of an expensive wave-generating stadium, which would actually be pretty cool.

Surfing is already on the program for the World Beach Games. The sport was also added to the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, which was a big boost for its inclusion in the program for the 2020 Olympics.

Olympic Surfing Format

Four or five surfers compete in heats lasting 20-25 minutes, though only one rider may ride a wave at any given time. Later rounds the surfers went head-to-head. The surfers will be judged by a panel of judges, scoring each wave ride on a scale between 1 to 10. They will be judging each ride on commitment and difficulty, innovation and progression, variety, combination, speed, power and flow. The degree of difficulty of each maneuver will also be factored into the scoring. Each competitor's top two scores will be used to determine which surfers progress to the next round.

Tokyo 2021 Surfing Competition

The Surfing competition at Tokyo 2020 featured 20 men and 20 women. In an agreement between the World Surf League (WSL) and the International Surfing Association (ISA), 18 of the 40 places at the Games were 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).

The surfing competition took place on natural waves at Shidashita Beach, or "Shida", 64km from Tokyo on the Chiba peninsula. The event was held over two days, though the program included a period of 16 days to allow for waiting for adequate quality waves if needed.

The men's event was won by Ítalo Ferreira of Brazil, the women's by Carissa Moore of the United States.

Paris 2024 Surfing Competition

For the 2024 Paris Olympics, French organizers have approved the South Pacific island of Tahiti as the venue for the surfing events. It will be a record for the furthest an event is from the host city.

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Olympics Extra

The next Olympics will be in Paris 2024, followed by the Winter edition in Milan-Cortina 2026. Check out the list of Olympic Games sports, as well as discontinued and demonstration sports.

Major Events Extra

The largest sporting event in the world is the Olympic Games, but there are many other multi-sport games. In terms of single sport events, nothing beats the FIFA World Cup. To see what's coming up, check out the calendar of major sporting events.

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