Surfing is making its Olympic debut in Tokyo, more than a century after Duke Kahanamoku first asked the International Olympic Committee to consider including the sport.
On Aug. 3, 2016, the IOC approved surfing (along with baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, and sport climbing) for inclusion at the games as part of an initiative that allows host cities to promote sports that are popular within their nation. As a result, the sports were only approved for the Tokyo Olympics, and not automatically added to future Olympic programs.
In February 2019, the Paris organizing committee recommended that skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing, in addition to breakdancing, be included in the 2024 Paris Olympics. In December 2019, the Paris organizing committee announced that it was hoping to hold the 2024 Olympic surfing competition in Tahiti (one of France's territories), which is just under 10,000 miles away from Paris.
New Faces to Watch
Fifteen men and 13 women have provisionally qualified to compete in surfing in Tokyo, leaving 12 spots up for grabs for eligible athletes at the 2021 ISA World Surfing Games.
Team USA's qualifiers include Kolohe Andino and John John Florence on the men's side, and Carissa Moore and Caroline Marks on the women's.
Andino, the first American qualifier, secured his spot when he reached the Round of 16 at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal 2019 competition, ensuring he would finish as one of the top two Americans on the World Surf League Men’s Championship Tour that year.
Florence, the last of the four to qualify, rushed a comeback from tearing his ACL to make the Olympic team. He sealed his spot at the 2019 Pipe Masters, edging out 11-time world champion Kelly Slater.
Moore was the first American woman to qualify and is a three-time world champion. Both she and Marks secured their berths at the 2019 Maui Pro event, where Marks narrowly qualified over Lakey Peterson. The U.S. had the top three female surfers in World Surf League rankings heading into the event, but only two surfers per gender can qualify per nation.