The sport of surfing has been officially confirmed as an Olympic sport. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the final decision to include surfing in the Tokyo 2020 sports program.
It has been a very long battle but, after years of lobbying and meetings, Fernando Aguerre and the International Surfing Association (ISA) have finally convinced the IOC that surfing is the perfect addition to the Olympic movement.
Surfers will remember the 3rd August 2016 for the rest of their lives. Men and women will ride waves for gold, silver, and bronze medals under the image of the five interlocking rings designed by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, in 1912.
"After decades of hard work and dedication we are absolutely thrilled that surfing will officially join the Olympic sports program at Tokyo 2020," underlined Fernando Aguerre, president of ISA.
"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."
"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," expressed Aguerre.
Tokyo 2020 will welcome 40 Olympic surfing athletes, and Chiba is the selected region for the competition. The 129th IOC Session also announced the inclusion of baseball/softball, sport climbing, skateboarding, and karate in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
"Congratulations to ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, and the ISA on their successful bid to have the sport included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games," added Paul Speaker, CEO of the World Surf League (WSL).
"The WSL looks forward to working with the ISA to ensure that the sport is showcased in the best possible manner and with the world’s best athletes. It is awesome that our incredible athletes will have the opportunity to showcase their talents and skills to the global Olympic audience and compete for their countries."
Surfing's route to the Olympic Games has not pleased everyone. The purists note that politics and industry interests will threaten the sport's soul, but the majority of surfers is backing up the experience.
"For the sport, being accepted onto the Olympic stage is a great step forward. Surfing continues to grow and seeing it reach the Olympic level is really exciting. I'm looking forward to the opportunity of representing our country if I'm fortunate enough to make the U.S. team," concluded John John Florence.
Japan has great waves and fantastic surfers. However, it is not clear yet if the Olympic surfing competition will take place in a natural environment, i.e., the Pacific Ocean.
In September 2015, the Tokyo 2020 organizers said there would be no artificial waves in the event but, with the latest developments, the possibility can't be ruled out.
Will Kelly Slater Wave Company and Wavegarden lobby to build a surf pool featuring Olympic, man-made waves? Or can the Japanese coast deliver consistent swells all year round?
The final decision will be made in the next four years. And, who knows, we might see Kelly Slater carrying the US flag when the first Olympic surfboards hit the Sea of Japan between 24th July and 9th August 2020.
August 2016 The International Olympic Committee confirms surfing in the Tokyo 2020 sports program.
June 2016 The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee supported the proposal to add surfing - and four new individual and team sports - to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
September 2015 The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee proposed surfing in Olympic Games.
July 2011 Surfing is not included in the 2020 Olympic Games. Only a board sport - wakeboard - is listed.
October 2009 ISA President Fernando Aguerre officially participates in the Olympic Congress.
October 2008 Surfing is included in the first annual, OAC-sanctioned Asian Beach Games, in Bali, Indonesia.
August 2008 ISA President publishes "Surfing in the Olympics," a key piece in the ISA's path towards the Olympic Games.
June 2008 ISA President attends SportAccord, where he makes the case for inclusion of Surfing in the Cultural, Education and/or Cultural Programs of the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games, and 2012 London Olympic Games.
December 2003 ISA signs the contract with WADA, conforming to the IOC's Anti-Doping Charter.
November 2003 ISA submits a re-evaluation document for the IOC records.
December 2002 Surfing was officially put on the South Pacific Games Program.
August 2002 ISA receives a letter saying that surfing will not be considered for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 because it has not yet fulfilled the requirement of having 75 national governing bodies.
November 1997 IOC requests two ISA flags, one for the IOC Headquarters and one for the IOC Museum.
September 1997 IOC grants "outright recognition" to the ISA as a "Recognized Federation."
January 1997 ISA produces a promotional video about the 1996 World Surfing Games and sends a copy of it to all IOC Members.
October 1996 SA holds its World Surfing Games 1996, in Huntington Beach, California. It was the world's largest surfing contest, featuring almost 600 competitors from 36 nations.
August 1996 The Olympic "Questionnaire for Admission" is completed and sent back to the IOC.
June 1996 IOC President Samaranch, at the conclusion of his June meeting with ISA Chairman Aguerre, unexpectedly announced the creation of a special "IOC President's Trophy" to be given to the team winner at the ISA World Surfing Games.
May 1996 Mr. Joao Havelange, President of FIFA (Federation Internationale Football Association), the world's largest sporting federation, becomes an ambassador for surfing.
September 1995 ISA decides to make a special donation to the IOC museum in honor of becoming a recognized federation.
June 1995 The IOC's Annual Congress ratifies the Executive Committee's decision, officially recognizing the ISA as the International Federation for surfing and bodyboarding, thus formally welcoming the sports to the Olympic movement.
April 1995 IOC Executive Committee grants provisional recognition to the International Surfing Association (ISA).
March 1995 Aguerre rallies support of the US surf industry and brings the ISA World Surfing Games to Huntington Beach, USA.
August 1994 ISA files application for recognition by the IOC.
May 1994 Fernando Aguerre is elected Chairman of the ISA, and includes Olympic surfing as part of the ISA's plan for the inclusion in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
April 1994 Lobbying continues for surfing to become an Olympic sport. Jacques Hele attends several international sports meetings.
November 1992 International Surfing Association (ISA) President Jacques Hele lobbies for surfing in the Olympic movement.
September 1920 Duke Kahanamoku wins the 100 meters Freestyle Olympic gold medal at Antwerp 1920. The "father of surfing" wins another gold medal with the USA 4x200m Men's Relay team.