August 7 - 13, 2016: Issue 275

Surfing To Be An Olympic Sport In 2020 Tokyo Games: Dynamic Future Visions 

 NSW Premier Mike Baird has welcomed the inclusion of surfing into the Tokyo Olympic Games, pictured here with 1978 World Champion Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew.   Mr Baird has been patron of Surfing NSW since 2011 - photo by Dom Bakarich/ Surfing NSW
Within minutes of the IOC announcing on Wednesday the inclusion of Surfing, along with Skateboarding, Baseball/Softball, and Sports Climbing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics it was all over the Internet. 

In Australia where so many either go surfing, watch surfing, or pull on a range of surf gear to dive into other sports, those who were right then competing at the Australian Surf Titles at Coffs could be seen form Sydney, dancing all over the sand as well as the waves. Mick Fanning is reported to have immediately stuck his hand up for a coaching position, Sally Fitzgibbons realised a long-held dream of a Gold medal in her sport may be possible, while Patron of Surfing NSW, and Premier of NSW, Mike Baird, a surfer himself and advocate for the inclusion of the sport, welcomed the news.

Fernando Aguerre, President of the International Surfing Association said after the announcement was made, 
“After decades of hard work and dedication we are absolutely thrilled that Surfing will officially join the Olympic Sports Program at Tokyo 2020. Our Olympic dream has now become a reality and on behalf of the entire Surfing family I would like to express our sincere thanks to the IOC and Tokyo 2020 for their pioneering vision in making this historic decision possible.

“This is a game-changing moment for Surfing. We are already seeing increased popularity of the sport across the world and the Olympic Games will provide an incredible platform to further showcase Surfing and its core values. With its unique and modern blend of sport performance, style and youth culture, Surfing will help deliver something special to the Games.

“We are especially stoked for the athletes who now have their own dream to shoot for – to compete for their countries on the greatest sporting stage. We can’t wait to see the world’s best going head to head on the waves in Tokyo and millions of Surfing fans revelling in the competition and the fantastic festival atmosphere of the beach party.

“We know the hard work does not stop here. We look forward with great enthusiasm and energy to working in partnership with the IOC and Tokyo 2020 as we aim to make Surfing’s Olympic debut a resounding success.”

The dream of having surfing in the Olympics goes back even further if you take into account the wishes of former Olympic swimmer Duke Kahanamoku a Gold medallist in the 100 metres freestyle at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics and Gold again in the same event in Antwerp in 1920, this time adding an extra Gold in the relay.  The gentleman credited with introducing surfing to Australia wrote in his book Duke Kahanamoku’s World of Surfing 

Even as early as that day (1918), I was already thinking of surfing in terms of how, one day, it could become one of the events in the Olympic games. Why not? Skiing and diving have taken their rightful place as official Games events. I still believe surfing will one day be recognized, voted in, and accepted.” 

You can just see grommets already taking to the tomorrow's waves with even more abandon and determination...if that's possible. 

The questions that follow, are 'how many' and 'where' and 'what will be the selection criteria'?

Although it's early days yet, Surfing, with 20 men and 20 women athletes, will take place in the sea, instead of on artificial waves. 

The IOC has two principles for Olympic qualification; geographic universality and showcasing the best athletes. 

As for that other sport well favoured here, Skateboarding, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics events, at this stage, will be split into two divisions — park and street  — with male and female competitors in both disciplines, and  the top 20 male and top 20 female riders will compete in each division. 
The Official Announcement:

IOC Approves Five New Sports For Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

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 

August 3, 2016: IOC Media Release
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.

The Organising Committee for the Tokyo 2020 Games proposed the five new sports in response to the new flexibility provided by Olympic Agenda 2020.

Today’s vote was the culmination of a two-year process that began with the unanimous approval of the IOC’s strategic roadmap in 2014. The recommendation to give Organising Committees the flexibility to propose new sports for their edition of the Games was intended to put even more focus on innovation, flexibility and youth in the development Olympic programme.

Tokyo 2020, the first Organising Committee able to take advantage of the change, submitted its proposal for the five new sports to the IOC in September 2015.

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.”

Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said, “The inclusion of the package of new sports will afford young athletes the chance of a lifetime to realise their dreams of competing in the Olympic Games – the world's greatest sporting stage – and inspire them to achieve their best, both in sport and in life.” 

The additional sports in Tokyo will not impact the athlete or event quotas of existing Olympic sports or be binding on future host cities. The current athlete and event quotas are unaffected.

The IOC considered a variety of factors when assessing the proposal, including the impact on gender equality, the youth appeal of the sports and the legacy value of adding them to the Tokyo Games.

The inclusion of the new sports will add 18 events and 474 athletes, with equal numbers of women and men for all sports except baseball/softball, which will have the same number of teams but different player totals, because softball teams have 15 players whilst baseball teams have 24. Tokyo 2020 will rely heavily on existing and temporary venues to stage the competitions.

Discussions on the event programme in the existing 28 Olympic sports for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are ongoing, and will be finalised by the IOC Executive Board in mid-2017.
Rio 2016 Olympic Games 129th IOC Session
IOC President, Thomas Bach and executive Board Members join IOC Members for a photograph at the end of the of the 129th IOC Session at the Windsor Oceanic Hotel in Rio De Janeiro ahead of the Rio 2106 Olympic Games. Photograph by IOC/Ian Jones


Thursday, August 4, 2016: from Surfing NSW
NSW Premier Mike Baird, Surfing NSW and some of the state’s best young surfers today celebrated the inclusion of surfing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Meeting on the eve of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee General Assembly early this morning (Australian time) approved the inclusion of surfing on the Tokyo sporting program.
NSW Premier Mike Baird, himself a surfer, welcomed the announcement. “My love of the ocean and surfing is well known and I’m absolutely thrilled to hear the sport has finally been included in the Olympic line up,” he declared. “Australians love the surf and I expect the world will be seeing many of our best competing at Tokyo in 2020.”
Surfing NSW CEO Luke Madden said: “This is sensational news for our sport, its athletes and the promotion of the healthy surfing lifestyle.”
Surfing NSW Chairman John O’Neill said: “We’ve already seen a rush of new brands looking to associate with beach culture and this will only accelerate their interest in surfing and our ability to further develop the sport.”
Sally Fitzgibbons, current World Surf League (WSL) world number five, and Surfing NSW director, added that it was “incredible that surfing is being recognised at the biggest sporting event in the world”.
“It’s amazing to think that Australian surfers will have the opportunity to win gold for the country. It’s a huge incentive for all of us to aim for over the next four years.”
Two of the state’s most promising young surfers also rejoiced in the news.
Said Alysse Cooper, 16, from Queenscliff and the current Under 18 female NSW Junior State Title holder: “I didn’t ever think surfing would be in the Olympics. The Olympics is very prestigious, to represent your country in such a big arena and so many other sports there as well, so I think when it does come to Japan for the 2020 Olympics, it will definitely be a good stepping stone for the sport in general”.
Said Jay Brown, 14, from Cronulla and the Under 16 NSW Junior State Surfing Title holder: “From watching the Olympics as a kid and knowing how big it is it would be massive for the growth of surfing. When [11-time world champion] Kelly Slater built his wave pool, ‘I thought it could be in for a chance’. But to hear now it’s confirmed is so amazing,”
NSW has produced 31 WSL (formerly ASP) world titles across 14 champions surfers since 1964 and is targeting Olympic Gold.
Duke Kahanamoku Sitting with his brother Sam, Bronze medallist in the 100 metres freestyle at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. 

Duke Kahanamoku, ca.1915, original postcard : b&w courtesy John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Image No: picqld-2006-06-05-12-29
Page extras by A J Guesdon, 2016