Surfing at the Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020: What You Need to Know

You probably never heard of surfing in the Olympics before, and that’s because this is the first time that surfers will compete for medals in the most prestigious stage in sports.

Surfing has deep roots as one of the oldest sports played by humans. But this time, it’s finally taking center stage as the newest sport to be included in the Olympics.

It was 2018 when the International Surfing Association (ISA) announced that surfing will make its debut at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. For the first time in the history of the Olympics, a sporting event will be held in a beach venue and not a wave pool.

Image credit: Olympics

Located 40 miles outside Tokyo, Tsurigasaki Beach will be the venue for this year’s surfing competition.

According to Kurt Korte, the official surf forecaster for the Tokyo Summer Olympics, this beach offers big waves that will make it the perfect venue for the 2-day surfing event, which will see four athletes surfing in every heat. “The incoming tide push over the afternoon does look to provide a lot of fun waves,” he said.

The two surfers with the best record in every heat will move on to the next round, with each heat lasting around 20 to 25 minutes. The competition will also follow basic surfer’s etiquette, which includes only one surfer being allowed to ride a wave at any given time.

Anyone who interferes with the rider closest to the peak could incur point deductions.

Scores will be given by a panel of judges who will look at a surfer’s power, speed and the difficulty of maneuvers. This year’s  surfing competition at the Olympics will only include shortboards performance with 20 men and 20 women competing for the gold, silver and bronze medals.

For surfers, this inclusion is a huge step towards surfing being recognized as a major sport. After waiting many years, surfing was officially included in the shortlist for the Summer Olympics on September 28, 2015.

The International Surfing Association hopes that in Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028, more categories such as bodyboarding and longboarding will be included in the surfing competition.


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