World Surfing Games Champion Nation could take six athletes to Tokyo 2020

The confirmation of IOC classification criteria for Olympic Games surfing brought interesting details


Above: Being the World Surfing Games champion has an added bonus: it could mean you may take six athletes to Tokyo 2020.  Photo: ISA/Reed

The International Surfing Association informed on Friday that the International Olympic Committee gave the OK to the  classification criteria to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that was presented back in December 2017 in conjunction with the World Surf League. The governing authority of the Games respected the rules proposed by the governing body for surfing.

Details of the news brought some innovations, mainly that there could be one country with the possibility of sending six athletes – three men and three women – should it happen that the quota of a max of two athletes per country, ten men and eight women, is not filled through the CT ratings.

In this case, the champion nation of the 2020 World Surfing Games may complete que lacking slot with an additional athlete.

In other words: Supposing that in a hypothetical women’s  CT event, Australia obtains two places, the United States two, France two and Brazil one, and there are no other surfers from other countries with the possibility of classifying – something that could perfectly happen – then the winner of the 2020 World Surfing Games will have the right to take a third athlete, thus completing the quota of eight women athletes qualified via the CT.

In this scenario, if for example, Australia wins the Games, then a third CT surfer from Australia would go to the Olympics and the same applies for the men.

Should there not be a third athlete on the CT from the WSG winning nation, then the QS may stand for that country. 

Finally, if still the quota is not completed in such a way (which would be weird), then the QS ranking will be used to elect a surfer following the max 2 per gender criteria. For the above example, first surfer of the QS ratings from Brazil or another country that is not Australia, France or USA would qualify.

Since this is likely to happen for the women CT ratings, it would be interesting to know what the ISA and WSL would consider a CT athlete. If we use 2017 as an example, it would be good to know if Bianca Buitendag from South Africa (who would be the last to qualify using this ranking as an example), who competed as a wildcard and an injury replacement in five events, would be making it to the Olympics or not.

Should 2017 be a classifying year to the Games, Kanoa Igarashi’s change of country, from the United States to Japan, would have been a key issue, meaning he would have become the tenth surfer classified during the CT events – something he would have been unable to do if competing by the US team. Photo: WSL/Sloane

The classification system key elements, that were informed in December, are as follows, in view of the International Olympic Committee confirming what was informed in December last:
-20 men, 20 women.

-Maximum of 2 surfers per gender per National Olympic Committee (NOC).

-Qualification spots will be earned on an individual basis, by name.

-In accordance with IOC guidelines, the qualification events have been determined in hierarchical order of qualification, as further explained below; if two surfers of a gender have qualified through the first hierarchical order, that NOC will not be able to qualify more surfers of that gender through qualifying events lower in hierarchical order.

-All surfers selected by their respective National Federations for their national teams must participate in 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games in order to be eligible for Olympic qualification. The final details of the eligibility requirements are still under review by the ISA and the IOC.

If the Olympic Games were this year, Jhony Corzo of Mexico, gold in the 2017 World Surfing Games, would have guaranteed a slot. Photo: ISA/Reed

The hierarchical order of qualification will be as follows remained as it was informed in December:
-2019 World Surf League Championship Tour: First 10 eligible men and first 8 eligible women.

-2020 ISA World Surfing Games: First 4 eligible men and first 6 eligible women.

-2019 ISA World Surfing Games: 4 men and 4 women selected based on their continent. Top finishing eligible surfer of each gender from Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

-2019 Pan American Games: First eligible man and first eligible woman in the surfing competitions.

-Host nation slot: One man and one woman slot will be guaranteed for the host nation of Japan, unless already filled through the above hierarchies. Should athletes from Japan qualify regularly, their slots will be reallocated to the highest ranked eligible surfers from the 2020 World Surfing Games.