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Surfing at the 2020 Summer Olympics

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at the Games of the XXXII Olympiad
VenueTsurigasaki Beach, Chiba
Dates25–27 July 2021
No. of events2
Competitors40 from 17 nations
2024 →
Ítalo Ferreira

Surfing at the Summer Olympics made its debut in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.[1] The Olympics was originally scheduled to be held in 2020, but was postponed to 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.[2][3]


In 2018, the International Surfing Association (ISA) announced that surfing at the 2020 Summer Olympics would take place in the ocean, and not in an artificial wave pool.[4] The contest site for the 2020 Games was announced to be Tsurigasaki Beach located about 40 miles (64 km) outside of Tokyo in Ichinomiya, Chiba.[5] To ensure quality surf, the contest will feature a waiting period of 16 days. Once the event runs, it will take two days to finish the competition.[6]

Competition structure[edit]

The 2020 Summer Olympics will use a four-person heat structure.[7] Four athletes will compete at any given time. The best two of each heat will continue to the next round. Each heat will run for 20 to 25 minutes, with their top two scores being used.

Only one rider may ride a wave at any given time, using a common surfing etiquette[8] rule where the surfer who is closest to the peak has right of way. Any interference with the surfer who has right of way can incur a penalty and result in point deductions.

A panel of judges will determine each rider's performance from wave to wave, scoring from one to ten with two decimals. e.g. 8.51. Scores are based on the difficulty of manoeuvres performed. This includes speed, power, and flow of each manoeuvre.

Bid for inclusion[edit]

On 28 September 2015, surfing was featured on a shortlist along with baseball, softball, skateboarding, karate, and sport climbing to be considered for inclusion in the 2020 Summer Olympics.[9] On 3 August 2016 the International Olympic Committee voted to include all five sports (counting baseball and softball as a single sport) for inclusion in the 2020 Games.[10]

Two major obstacles for surfing to be included in the Olympics for many years was that firstly, it would be difficult to hold surfing events in the event of a landlocked country hosting the Games (compared to sailing which can take place at a lake, surfing requires an ocean current with waves), and secondly, that drowning is one of the major risks in surfing: the IOC was reluctant to take high liabilities in the event of a competitor's death.[11]

Number of participants[edit]

20 men and 20 women planned to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics.[12][13] However, one of the men, Carlos Muñoz, did not make it in time for his event.[14] Surfing at the Olympics is currently limited to high-performance shortboards only,[15] separated into categories of gender. If surfing is included in upcoming games such as Paris 2024 or Los Angeles 2028, other categories such as Longboarding, bodyboarding and SUP may be included.[16]


Quota places will be allocated to the athletes at the following events:

  • Host Country: Japan as host country is allocated 1 place in both men's and women's events. If at least one Japanese surfer has earned a qualification place through other events, the relevant Host Country Place(s) shall be reallocated to the next highest ranked eligible athlete at the 2020 World Surfing Games.
  • 2019 World Surf League Championship Tour – the 10 highest ranked men and 8 highest ranked women will be awarded quota places.
  • 2019 ISA World Surfing Games – the top finishers from each continent with the exception of the Americas will be awarded a quota place.
  • 2019 Pan American Games – the top finisher in men's and women's events will be awarded a quota place.
  • 2021 ISA World Surfing Games – the top 4 men and 6 women will be awarded quota places. If a NOC or National Olympic Committee qualifies more than the maximum number of athletes, the 2021 ISA World Surfing Games will prevail and any places earned from 2019 will be reawarded to the next highest finishing athlete(s).

There is a maximum of 2 men and 2 women per NOC. [17]


Event Places (Men) Places (Women) Date Venue
Host Country 1 1
2019 Pan American Games 1 1 26 July – 11 August 2019 Peru Lima
2019 World Surf League 10 8 April – December 2019 various
2019 ISA World Surfing Games 4 4 7–15 September 2019 Japan Miyazaki
2021 ISA World Surfing Games 4 6 29 May – 6 June 2021 El Salvador El Salvador
Re-allocation of unused quotas TBD 2020–21 N/A

Competition schedule[edit]

H Heats QF Quarter-Finals SF Semi-Finals F Finals
Date 25 Jul 26 Jul 27 Jul
Men's R1 R2 R3 QF SF F
Women's R1 R2 R3 QF SF F

Dates are tentative. Competition will take place over 4 days between 25 July and 1 August, subject to wave conditions.[18][19]

Finals advanced to 27 July from 28 July, to take advantage of waves caused by Tropical Storm Nepartak.[20] [21]

Medal summary[edit]

Medal table[edit]

  *   Host nation (Japan)

1 Brazil1001
 United States1001
3 Japan*0112
4 South Africa0101
5 Australia0011
Totals (5 entries)2226


Event Gold Silver Bronze
Men's shortboard
Ítalo Ferreira
Kanoa Igarashi
Owen Wright
Women's shortboard
Carissa Moore
 United States
Bianca Buitendag
 South Africa
Amuro Tsuzuki

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Holthus, Barbara; Gagné, Isaac; Manzenreiter, Wolfram; Waldenberger, Franz (23 April 2020). Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics Open Access. Routledge. p. 61. doi:10.4324/9781003033905. ISBN 978-1-003-03390-5. S2CID 214002752.
  2. ^ "Joint Statement from the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee". International Olympic Committee. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  3. ^ "2021 Tokyo Olympics Live Stream Reddit Free". 16 April 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  4. ^ "Surfing in the ocean at Tokyo Olympics: ISA president". France 24. 22 May 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  5. ^ "Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach". Tokyo 2020. The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Archived from the original on 29 June 2021. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  6. ^ Dashel Pierson (5 August 2016). "10 Things You Should Know About Surfing in the Olympics". Surfline.com. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Olympic Sports : Surfing|The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games". The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Surfing Etiquette: How to behave in the surf". www.surfing-waves.com. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  9. ^ "Surfing and skateboarding make shortlist for 2020 Olympics". GrindTV.com. 28 September 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  10. ^ Pablo Zanocchi (3 August 2016). "It's Official: Surfing Will Be in the Olympics". Surfline.com. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  11. ^ Pablo Zanocchi (3 August 2016). "It's Official: Surfing Will Be in the Olympics". Surfline.com. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  12. ^ "10 Things You Should Know About Surfing in the Olympics". Surfline.com. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Australian Surfer Julian Wilson grabs 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Spot | Olympics 2020". Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  14. ^ "Nerves, joy, and modest waves at surfing's Olympic debut". apnews.com. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  15. ^ "Surfing in the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tokyo, Japan". Surf Nation. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  16. ^ "Fanning: Surfing can be regular Olympic sport". ESPN.com. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  17. ^ "Tokyo 2020 Qualification System – Surfing" (PDF). isasurf.org. 16 March 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Schedule – Surfing Tokyo 2020 Olympics". Olympian Database. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  19. ^ "Surfing Competition Schedule". Tokyo 2020. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Olympic surfing finals brought forward as storm approaches". Times of India. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  21. ^ "Surfing finals are set: Kanoa Igarashi vs. Italo Ferreira, and Carissa Moore vs. Bianca Buitendag". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2021.

External links[edit]