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Thursday, 21 August 2008

Surfing: An Olympic sport?

I've heard gossip for years about surfing becoming an Olympic sport but that was before decent wave pools, without which surfing as an Olympic event would be a non-starter. However the question as to surfing's inclusion in the games is now becoming more relevant. The piece below was was written by Fernando Aguerra, President of the International Surfing Association (ISA) and the video clip is of the Ocean Dome in Japan (not sure if longboarding could be included though):

"The IOC and contemporary sports

In the past few years the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has dramatically evolved in its view of the so-called extreme or contemporary sports and their place in the Olympic Movement.

The very positive effect of the inclusion of snowboarding in the Winter Games has also been a great wake up call for many. Another example of this positive evolution is the inclusion of BMX in the Beijing Games.

Presently diverse stakeholders around the world are friendly to the possibility of surfing’s inclusion in the Summer Games. This is in part because surfing has a well functioning and structured IOC-Recognized International Federation (the ISA) and National Federations, but most importantly it has to do with the realization that without “pruning the Olympic Games tree” by adding relevant new sports, and excluding no longer relevant sports, the tree itself will become less relevant and vital.

What are the hurdles for inclusion in the IOC GAMES?

The biggest obstacles facing new sports hoping to be included in the Olympic Games Program are the strict requirements for inclusion and the length of time the process requires. A new sport should start its campaign at least nine years before a particular Olympic Games, because the final line-up of sports is decided by the IOC seven years before any given Olympic Games.

Surfing’s chance for inclusion will most likely involve the development of wave parks with suitable manmade waves. Several such parks have been in operation for years, but recent technological improvements have raised the bar, and we now have an unprecedented ability for producing high-quality performance waves.

Consistent with current IOC rules, the decision on the Sports Program for the 2016 Games will be made in 2009 in Copenhagen. The IOC will also announce the host for those Games (finalists are Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago). The selection for the following Summer Games (2020) will be made in 2013.

The five sports on the “short list” for inclusion in the 2016 Games are rugby, karate, roller sports, racquetball, and golf. Currently there is only room for two additional sports for those Games. The IOC could also decide not to include any new sport at all for 2016."

And my view.... Surfing is being dragged into the mainstream whether we like it or not and inclusion in the Olympics will only accelerate that process not trigger it. Surfing as an Olympic sport wouldn't be a bad thing as it would only shine a positive light on our lifestyle. No doubt it would prompt more people to try surfing and perhaps increase the crowd factor but wave parks will eventually become the norm allowing millions of inland surfers to stay inland. I can see wave park surfing becoming an entity in its own right developing separately from ocean surfing.

Whatever happens, surfing an ocean wave will never change and no amount of wave pool experience or medals will ever replace getting up at dawn on a freezing winter morning, to catch the pulse that you know will show for only a few hours on the right tide, at the right spot before the wind picks up- just gliding on pure energy with a few good friends.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks friggin fun to me... build it & they will come! Ain't nothing like the power of the ocean but hey... it's all about the water.


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