Tokyo Olympics 2020 | What to watch out for when surfing at the Olympics

For the first time in the Olympics

Surfing was developed as a sport in the Pacific Islands. The Duke of Hawaii Kahanamoku, who won three US gold medals in swimming at the 1912 and 1920 Olympics, is considered the “father of modern surfing.” The first world championship was organized in 1964. With the addition of surfing to the Olympic program, its recognition as a sport is completed.

  • What: surfing
  • Where: Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach
  • When: Sunday, July 25 – Wednesday, July 28
  • Where to see it: Eurosport 1 & Discover +
  • Favorites: Gabriel Medina, John John Furance, Cana Igarshi, Carissa Moore, Stephanie Gilmore

What is surfing?

Surfing should not be confused with surfing, which is the sailing discipline in which Dorian van Risselberg won gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. In surfing there are different disciplines with different types of boards. Twenty men and women compete for medals on short boards in Tokyo. The length of the short board is about 180 cm. The surfing championship takes place over four days. Surfers can be found on Olympic waters July 25-28. The finals will take place on Wednesday, July 28.

The surf tournament is held in rounds with a knockout system. In the first round, four athletes were in the water at the same time. The surfers with the most points advance to the third round. Players who finished third and fourth will get a second chance in the second round. From the third round, heated competitions are held in which only two athletes are in the water at a time. The winner of the heat advances in the tournament.

John John Florence at Billabong Pipemasters 2016

Photo: Getty Images

The heat lasts thirty minutes as surfers are allowed to ride a maximum of 25 waves. For each wave driven, the surfer receives points from the five-member jury. The jury judges difficulty, speed, creativity, and flow. The highest two waves of points will count towards the athlete’s total score. The surfer who gets the highest score after thirty minutes wins the heat.

Who should you pay attention to?

Among men, American men have historically been the strongest. The biggest name on the American team is John John Florence from Hawaii. Florence, 28, won the World Surf League title in 2016 and 2017. Florence’s biggest competitor comes from Brazil. The country has not been a part of the absolute top for a very long time, but is now an indispensable part of international surfing. Brazilians Gabriel Medina (27) and Italo Ferreira (27) have won the last two editions of the World Surfing Championships. Homeland pins its hopes on Kanna Igarashi. Igarashi was born and raised in California, but Japanese parents. He also comes from that country. The fourth-placed surfer will go to the Games with a real medal chances.

The women’s match looks like a duel between the United States and Australia. The big favorite is Carissa Moore (USA). In the state of Hawaii, one day is named after her. On January 4, Hawaiians celebrate Carissa Moore Day. Moore became world champion in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2019. She will top the championship in 2021. Moore challenges Caroline Marks (US), Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) and Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia).

Where are you looking?

Eurosport will broadcast the Olympic Games live from Friday 23 July to Sunday 8 August. Subscribe to Discover + sport and enjoy all the great sports and the most important Dutch shows during the Olympics non-stop and without ads thanks to the multiplayer live broadcast. Take a subscription here.

A Discover + Sports subscription (including access to TLC and Discovery ID channels) costs €5.99 per month and on this platform you can stream every sport and every medal you win live during the Olympics. There’s also a daily Medal Zone swap program at Eurosport 1 so you don’t miss out on any of the action.

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