It may come as a surprise to hear that an Olympic event is headed to Southern California.
At the end of May, the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) confirmed that the inaugural ANOC World Beach Games will be held in San Diego, California, and will feature 15 different sports – among them, surfing, skateboarding, BMX, bouldering, wakeboarding, triathlon and open-water swimming.
The event is slated to take place across six days at San Diego's Mission Beach and Bay, October 5-10, 2019. In addition to individual contests, the first World Beach Games will also aim to capture a youth audience through a concurrent music festival. The city and ANOC anticipate roughly 1,300 athletes from 206 countries, and tens of thousands of guests to attend.
ANOC representatives have been working hand in hand with each of the sport's International federations, the local San Diego Exploratory Foundation's organizing committee and city council members to solidify plans.
Federations from action and adventure sports that are helping guide the event include the International Surfing Association (ISA), headed up by President Fernando Aguerre, World Skate headed up by Gary Ream, and the Union of Cycling International (UCI) BMX division.
"The presence of BMX Freestyle at the World Beach Games 2019 is a great opportunity for the UCI to showcase one of its latest disciplines," comments Peter Van den Abeele, UCI deputy director and head of off-road.
BMX Freestyle was integrated into the UCI in 2015, and since then has been added to the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this October, as well as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
"BMX Freestyle's inclusion at San Diego 2019 is another sign of recognition for a spectacular sport that appeals to a young generation of cycling fans," Van den Abeele said.
Organizers for the World Beach Games will be focused on leaving Mission Beach "better than they found it," and are putting emphasis on producing a clean, sustainable event. Temporary infrastructure near Mission Beach's Belmont Park will include building three stadiums, as well as skate and BMX park-style courses, which will be constructed by California Skateparks.
San Diego's bid for hosting the Games was one of many from big cities across the globe, such as Hong Kong and Sochi, according to Willie Banks, CEO of the organizing committee. After vetting proposals and visiting each interested city, the five-member Olympic coordination commission deemed hosting the first-ever World Beach Games in San Diego as "a no-brainer."
"They were looking for authenticity," Banks, a San Diego native and former Olympic athlete, said. "We actually live the lifestyle here – San Diego is a beach town with great weather, and everyone focuses on the lifestyle of these sports every day."
Banks said the idea for World Beach Games was born from the International Olympic Committee's search for a more economic way to host Olympic-sanctioned events. The ease of beach-inspired sports allows the IOC to produce Beach Games at a fraction of the cost as traditional Olympic Games, and also allows more cities a chance to bid for this type of event.
As the premiere city for this model, San Diego will set the tone and precedent for future World Beach Games; Additional cities will be able to bid to host the event in 2020 and beyond.
"Not all cities in the world are blessed with what San Diego has, but there is plenty of coastline all over the world where cities could host these Games in the future," adds Banks.
Stay tuned for more details on the ANOC World Beach Games 2019 as they become available.
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