Saturday, 22 Jun 2024

Surfing at the Olympics

After years of lobbying, surfing has finally been accepted into the Olympic Games, making its debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This is a significant achievement for the sport, which will now be showcased on a global stage alongside four other new sports.

Challenges and Opportunities

One of the challenges that surfing faces is making it more spectator-friendly. Additionally, hosting a surfing event can be difficult for landlocked countries without coastlines or areas with inconsistent waves. To overcome this, the construction of wave-generating stadiums may be necessary, which could introduce an exciting new element to the sport.

Surfing has already gained recognition through its inclusion in other international events such as the World Beach Games and the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima. These milestones have solidified its position in the Olympic program.

Olympic Surfing Format

During the Olympic Games, heats of four or five surfers will compete for 20-25 minutes. Each surfer can only ride one wave at a time, and later rounds will feature head-to-head matchups. A panel of judges will score each ride based on various criteria, including commitment, difficulty, innovation, variety, combination, speed, power, and flow. The competitors’ top two scores will determine their progress to the next round.

Tokyo 2021 Surfing Competition

The surfing competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics featured 20 male and 20 female surfers. The World Surf League (WSL) and the International Surfing Association (ISA) reached an agreement that reserved 18 of the 40 spots for WSL Championship Tour (CT) surfers. The remaining spots were determined through the 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, and a host nation slot for Japan.

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The competition took place at Shidashita Beach, also known as “Shida,” located 64km from Tokyo on the Chiba peninsula. The event spanned two days, with a 16-day window to allow for optimal wave conditions.

Paris 2024 Surfing Competition

Looking ahead to the 2024 Paris Olympics, the organizers have chosen the picturesque South Pacific island of Tahiti as the venue for the surfing events. This decision reflects the global popularity and reach of the sport.


Q: How was surfing included in the Olympics?

A: After years of lobbying, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) accepted surfing into the Olympic program for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Q: How is the scoring done in Olympic surfing?

A: Surfing performances are scored by a panel of judges based on criteria such as commitment, difficulty, innovation, variety, combination, speed, power, and flow.

Q: How many surfers participate in the Olympic surfing competition?

A: The Olympic surfing competition features 20 male and 20 female surfers, with slots determined through various qualification events.


Surfing has made an exciting debut at the Olympic Games, finally gaining recognition as a global sport. Overcoming challenges such as spectator-friendliness and the need for suitable wave conditions, the sport has successfully secured its place in the Olympic program. With the Tokyo 2020 and future Paris 2024 competitions, surfing continues to captivate audiences worldwide. Join us in celebrating this milestone for the sport and stay tuned for more exciting developments in the world of Olympic surfing.

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