After years of campaigning by the ISA their long held dream of surfing in the Olympics has finally become reality…
From the IOC:
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today agreed to add baseball/softball, karate, skateboard, sports climbing and surfing to the sports programme for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The decision by the 129th IOC session in Rio de Janeiro was the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic programme in modern history. Plans call for staging the skateboarding and sports climbing events in temporary venues installed in urban settings, marking a historic step in bringing the games to young people and reflecting the trend of urbanisation of sport.
IOC president Thomas Bach said, “we want to take sport to the youth. with the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will come automatically to us. We have to go to them. Tokyo 2020’s balanced proposal fulfils all of the goals of the Olympic agenda 2020 recommendation that allowed it. Taken together, the five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo games.”
The response from athletes seems positive, understandably as representing your country at the Olympics would be an amazing experience. The response from everyone else covers the full spectrum from stoked to oh god to don’t care.
The one plus side is it will be ocean based, not in a wave pool, assuming there’s some swell in the two week summer window of the event.
The thought process makes sense. Snowboarding injected much needed excitement, cool and ‘youth interest’ in to the Winter Olympics and the IOC is hoping the same for the summer version. Admittedly the snowboard fraternity haven’t been exactly stoked with the whole deal.
Formats and how who gets to go is decided is a long way down the track. It’s a good thing for the smaller nations. As while the surfing superpowers will be favourites this will be a platform for those countries with a few very talented surfers to make a dent. Expect some epic tales of surfers from landlocked nations enjoying their five minutes in the sun.
The other new sports make sense. Well. I’m amazed karate wasn’t already there? Baseball seems a tad odd as it’s not a particularly global sport. Sports climbing will be fascinating and the skating will be incredible as that’s far more easy to digest for armchair sports fans who will understand the dynamic from the snowboard halfpipe events.
As for surfing. I don’t see it working myself. If the public aren’t interested in the world’s best in the world’s best waves on the WSL why would they be interested in a few of the world’s best and a lot making up the numbers?
If you’ve ever tried explaining a surf contest to a non-surfing friend you’ll know what I mean. It’s impenetrable. It’s not neat like skating or snowboarding. The session atmosphere of riders going bigger than the last for ever more complex tricks is not surfing. A sport where you can get a ten-point ride for just standing up and trimming down the line … if you happen to be doing it in a barrel.
Whatever your opinion it’s happening. And the ISA’s hopes of millions of new surfers (eeek!) getting turned on to the glide draws nearer.