Japanese news site, the Mainichi, reported this week that a new wave pool, “supervised by a famous surfer” is scheduled to begin construction and should open just before the 2020 Olympics start, and will be ready to host competitive events.

japan wave pool

The Surf Ranch in Lemoore, CA. Photo: Courtesy of SURFER/Glaser

Sure smacks of a Kelly Slater Wave Co. operation, does it not?

The facility seems to be on the site of the old Tokyo Dome, previously a venue that made the best man-made surf on the planet. Maybe ever. Warbly, chunky, glacier-ice blue tubes and ramps breaking if front of mountains of trucked-in sand. Maybe one of humanity’s most impressive creations. Maybe.

There was a sort of town hall meeting held so local residents could have their say, and, as far as we can tell from Google Translate, the locals mostly shrugged.

Intrigued, we reached out to Fernando Aguerre, head of the International Surfing Association, a key cog in getting surfing in the Olympics, with the ISA set to be a major player in the games.

Aguerre responded:

“There has been no change in the position from IOC, Tokyo 2020 and the ISA decided in 2017: The venue is in the ocean.”

Kelly Slater surfing in his own wave pool Photo: Courtesy of Kenneth Morris/WSL

Also, the ISA furnished this quote from a few weeks back:

“With the support of the ISA, the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organizers have determined that Surfing will take place in the ocean in Tokyo, at Tsurigasaki Beach in Chiba. In addition, the ISA is excited about showcasing surf culture and lifestyle through an innovative beach festival concept at the Games.

“The ISA has long been a supporter and advocate for wavepool technology. We are interested to learn of any developments of this kind, and obviously we stay in touch with Surfing colleagues on all new initiatives which help in the development of our great sport.”

Yet, the Mainichi article ends by reminding readers that surfing makes its debut in the Olympics in 2020.

Hard to square the timing with the Tokyo wave pool being built and opening just before the Olympics if the plan isn’t to host Olympic competition. Especially if Chiba is two-feet and dribble while the mechanical perfection of Kelly’s Wave is hypnotically churning nearby.

We asked Aguerre again: “So can the Olympic committee change its mind? Is competition set to be in the ocean no matter what?”

He simply directed us to his previous quote.

Sparkling new wave pool just outside Tokyo, opening right before the games, how could this not be for the Olympics?

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, you can check out the article yourself — very plug-in-able to Google Translate, if Japanese ain’t your strength.

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