The qualification process for surfing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has just become more clear. Wednesday morning, the World Surf League (WSL) and the International Surfing Association (ISA) announced in a joint press release that they have agreed to terms of the proposed qualification process.

That proposed qualification process includes 18 of the 40 slots in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be reserved for surfers of the WSL’s Championship Tour (10 men and eight women).

The remaining 22 slots will be determined by the the 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, the 2019 Pan American Games and two slots (one man and one woman) for the host nation of Japan.

WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt said in the release:

“The Olympics offers an incredible platform for any sport and surfing stands to benefit from this massive opportunity in 2020 and, hopefully, beyond. It is essential for surfing to showcase its best possible surfing through this opportunity and that requires the world’s best surfers from the Championship Tour to participate. It’s great that the ISA and WSL, in conversation with the athletes, could come to an agreement on the qualification process for 2020.”

While the agreement highlights that the Olympic field for surfing will be diverse and top-tier, this is merely a proposal from the WSL and the ISA. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) must approve this proposed qualification process, which they will decide at their February 2018 meeting.

This also leaves some remaining questions about qualification, as well. Such as, if Hawaii will be recognized as the USA or its own country (like it is by the WSL), how the 18 surfers from the CT will be determined, what uniforms will look like and a slew of other details that must be ironed out at some point.

Would John Florence be part of Team USA or will Hawaii be recognized by the IOC as its own country like the WSL does? Photo: Courtesy of Tony Heff/WSL

The ISA’s President Fernando Aguirre, who was a major force behind surfing being included in the Olympics, also highlighted in the press release the importance of this step for those remaining details to be figured out:

“We are also very pleased to have the WSL’s full support of and commitment to the ISA World Surfing Games between now and 2020. The participation of the top professionals in their national teams will elevate the surfing to new heights, creating additional excitement and drama in the lead-up to the Olympic Games.”

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