WSL and ISA reach historic decision about Olympic qualification process

Pending IOC approval, deal outlines Olympic spots from WSL and ISA events.

As surfing gears up for the 2020 Olympics, today the World Surf League (WSL) and International Surfing Association (ISA) reached an historic decision about the Olympic qualification process, which is still subject to the approval of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The agreement, which marks the first time the two organizations have worked in tandem to qualify athletes for a larger event, sees 18 of the 40 spots at the Games reserved for WSL Championship Tour (CT) surfers (10 men and eight women), with the remaining 22 places determined at the 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima. A single slot (each for men and women) will be reserved for Olympic host nation, Japan.

wsl isa olympic qualification process agreement

WSL CT surfers Pauline Ado and Johanne Defay rejoice upon respectively earning the Women’s Gold and Silver Medals for Team France at the 2017 ISA World Surfing Games held in Biarritz. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

“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,” said WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt. “It’s great that the ISA and WSL, in conversation with the athletes, could come to an agreement on the qualification process for 2020.”

Related: Skateboarding and surfing have been approved for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The next ISA World Surfing Games are scheduled for September 17-22, 2018, in Tahara, Japan. ISA President Fernando Aguerre said the organization is pleased to reach the landmark agreement with the WSL, which ensures the full support of ISA’s events between now and 2020.

“This agreement not only underlines our commitment to have the world’s best athletes competing for gold in Surfing’s debut in Tokyo, but also to ensure that the competitions reflect the open access and universality of our sport around the world, in all five continents,” Aguerre said.

The final sign-off on the qualification process will take place by the executive board of the IOC during its February 2018 meeting.

The importance of surfing’s inclusion in the Olympics, and highlighting surfing at a global level, has been at the forefront of the ISA’s mission under Aguerre’s leadership for the past several decades.

Surfing was confirmed as an Olympic sport for Tokyo 2020 in August 2016, after decades of campaigning by the ISA for the global development of surfing.

Surfing will also be included in the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima. This campaign has been buoyed by the continued improvement in high-performance surfing and mainstream attention of the WSL Championship Tour.

“It’s great that the WSL and the ISA have agreed on a qualification path for the Olympics in 2020,” said WSL CT surfer Sage Erickson. “It’s a major opportunity for the sport and we need to make the most of it. Showcasing the sport with the world’s best surfers, in the best waves possible, is something we’re all in agreement on.”

Stay tuned for more information on this story as it develops.

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