It’s official: the sport of surfing has been proposed to take part in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Japan. There will be two events for 20 male surfers and 20 female surfers.
The historic decision was announced by the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee this 28th September 2015. Surfing – alongside skateboarding, karate, sports climbing, and baseball/softball – has been proposed by the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee to enter the Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should confirm the new sports at the 129th IOC Session, in Rio, in August 2016.
It’s been a long discussion – should surfing be included in the Olympic movement? The so-called purists of the sport have often showed antipathy towards the idea; the progressivists embraced and supported it.
However, the biggest winner here is clearly Fernando Aguerre. The president of the International Surfing Association (ISA) has been fighting for the inclusion of surfing in the Olympic Games for more than a decade. His arguments are valid and understandable.
“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!” wrote Aguerre.
“Surfers are a strong and positive influence on young people around the world. They are a very relevant part of our youth culture and serve as inspirational figures, naturally representing Olympic values.”
Aguerre has always supported wave-making technologies as a natural path towards the Olympic Games. The ISA boss believes that surf pools will “provide opportunities for the integration of diverse socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, and age groups long after the Games have moved on.”
The president of the governing body for the sport of surfing has a final word for the purists. “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.”
It was a long road. The treacherous adventure into the Olympic movement started in 1992 when former ISA leader Jacques Hele started lobbying for surfing in the international sports event.
In the last 20 years, surfers lost five Olympic bids – Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London, and Brazil – and many questioned the sport’s ability to influence the IOC. However, surfing is writing a new page in its rich history book. Hopefully, the critics will join the party.
Aguerre is surely not alone in the celebrations. Kelly Slater, Gerry Lopez, Mick Fanning, Hank Gaskell, Taylor Knox, Gabriel Medina were some of the names who have backed the dream. And the dream is now reality. Surfing is one step closer of joining windsurfing in the Olympics.
Discover the most important dates in the history of surfing, and take a look at some key personalities who shaped the sport of riding waves through time.
The Chronology of Surfing in the Olympic Games
September 2015: The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee proposed surfing in Olympic Games.
July 2011: Surfing is not included in the 2020 Olympic Games. Only a board sport – wakeboard – is listed.
October 2009: ISA President Fernando Aguerre officially participates in the Olympic Congress.
October 2008: Surfing is included in the first annual, OAC-sanctioned Asian Beach Games, in Bali, Indonesia.
August 2008: ISA President publishes “Surfing in the Olympics,” a key piece in the ISA’s path towards the Olympic Games.
June 2008: ISA President attends SportAccord, where he makes the case for inclusion of Surfing in the Cultural, Education and/or Cultural Programs of the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games, and 2012 London Olympic Games.
December 2003: ISA signs the contract with WADA, conforming to the IOC’s Anti-Doping Charter.
November 2003: ISA submits a re-evaluation document for the IOC records.
December 2002: Surfing was officially put on the South Pacific Games Program.
August 2002: ISA receives a letter saying that surfing will not be considered for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 because it has not yet fulfilled the requirement of having 75 national governing bodies.
November 1997: IOC requests two ISA flags, one for the IOC Headquarters and one for the IOC Museum.
September 1997: IOC grants “outright recognition” to the ISA as a “Recognized Federation.”
January 1997: ISA produces a promotional video about the 1996 World Surfing Games and sends a copy of it to all IOC Members.
October 1996: ISA holds its World Surfing Games 1996, in Huntington Beach, California. It was the world’s largest surfing contest, featuring almost 600 competitors from 36 nations.
August 1996: The Olympic “Questionnaire for Admission” is completed and sent back to the IOC.
June 1996: IOC President Samaranch, at the conclusion of his June meeting with ISA Chairman Aguerre, unexpectedly announced the creation of a special “IOC President’s Trophy” to be given to the team winner at the ISA World Surfing Games.
May 1996: Mr. Joao Havelange, President of FIFA (Federation Internationale Football Association), the world’s largest sporting federation, becomes an ambassador for surfing.
September 1995: ISA decides to make a special donation to the IOC museum in honor of becoming a recognized federation.
June 1995: The IOC’s Annual Congress ratifies the Executive Committee’s decision, officially recognizing the ISA as the International Federation for surfing and bodyboarding, thus formally welcoming the sports to the Olympic movement.
April 1995: IOC Executive Committee grants provisional recognition to the International Surfing Association (ISA).
March 1995: Aguerre rallies support of the US surf industry and brings the ISA World Surfing Games to Huntington Beach, USA.
August 1994: ISA files application for recognition by the IOC.
May 1994: Fernando Aguerre is elected Chairman of the ISA, and includes Olympic surfing as part of the ISA’s plan for the inclusion in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
April 1994: Lobbying continues for surfing to become an Olympic sport. Jacques Hele attends several international sports meetings.
November 1992: International Surfing Association (ISA) President Jacques Hele lobbies for surfing in the Olympic movement.