Surfing at the 2020 Summer Olympics

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Surfing at the 2020 Summer Olympics
Surfing pictogram.svg
Governing bodyISA
Events2 (men: 1; women: 1)
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Surfing at the Summer Olympics will make its debut appearance in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.


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.[1] The contest site for the 2020 Games was announced to be Shidashita Beach, or "Shida", located about 40 miles (64 km) outside of Tokyo in Chiba.[2] 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 competition.[3]

Competition structure[edit]

The 2020 Summer Olympics will use a four-man heat structure,[4] 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 common surfing etiquette[5] 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 riders 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 September 28, 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.[6] On August 3, 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.[7]

Potential participation[edit]

Professional surfer Kelly Slater, widely considered to be the greatest surfer of all time,[8] has stated that "it'd be a huge honor" for him to participate in the Olympics, even at the age of 48, which he will have reached in 2020.[9] Additionally, it is likely that the dominant surfers of the World Surf League, such as Gabriel Medina and John John Florence, will be selected by their respective countries to participate in the Games.

However, the national qualifying can potentially create a problem for American and Hawaiian surfers, since Hawaii, considered a separate country from the United States in the World Surf League, will be included in the American quota for the Olympics.

This is evident considering that Tatiana Weston-Webb, who competed as a Hawaiian for her entire career, changed her representation for Brazil, as she was born in Brazil and her mother is Brazilian and her dad is British. Tatiana also has a Brazilian Fiancee, a Brazilian Coach and also a Brazilian Manager. So a natural move and also improving her chances of qualifying for the 2020 Surfing Olympic Tournament - according to the 2018 World Surf League Women's ranking on May 18, 2018, when Weston-Webb was a Hawaiian surfer, she would qualify as the 2nd best American surfer, with a tough competition from Lakey Peterson, Carissa Moore and Caroline Marks. However, since she now competes as a Brazilian, she would qualify as the best surfer of her birth country, with a huge advantage over the second Brazilian, Silvana Lima.

Number of participants[edit]

There will be 20 men, and 20 women competing in the 2020 Summer Olympics,[10] This is currently limited to high-performance shortboards only,[11] 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.[12]


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 Japan 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.
  • 2020 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 2020 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. [13]


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


Event Gold Silver Bronze

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Surfing in the ocean at Tokyo Olympics: ISA president". France 24. 2018-05-22. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  2. ^ "Surf year opens for Olympic qualifying, equal pay". 2019-04-03. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  3. ^ Dashel Pierson (2016-08-05). "10 Things You Should Know About Surfing in the Olympics". Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  4. ^ "Olympic Sports : Surfing|The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games". The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  5. ^ "Surfing Etiquette: How to behave in the surf". Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  6. ^ "Surfing and skateboarding make shortlist for 2020 Olympics". 2015-09-28. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  7. ^ Pablo Zanocchi (2016-08-03). "It's Official: Surfing Will Be in the Olympics". Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  8. ^ "#1 Kelly Slater | SURFER Magazine". 2010-07-22. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  9. ^ "Kelly Slater throwing his hat in Olympic ring". Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  10. ^ "10 Things You Should Know About Surfing in the Olympics". Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  11. ^ "Surfing in the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tokyo, Japan". Surf Nation. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  12. ^ "Fanning: Surfing can be regular Olympic sport". Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  13. ^ "Tokyo 2020 Qualification System - Surfing" (PDF). 2018-03-16. Retrieved 2018-03-17.

External links[edit]