Surfing at the Summer Olympics: What You Need to Know

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Many of us are excited that surfing has been elevated to a global stage. If you’re wanting to watch surfing in the Summer Olympics, here’s what you need to know about the where and when, who’s competing, which teams to watch, and the history of the event.

Surfing at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan: Complete Guide

When will the Olympics surfing event take place?

The surf competition in the Olympics will be held from July 25 to August 1, 2021 at Tsurigasaki Beach in Japan. The event is expected to take four days, though weather and ocean conditions will dictate exactly when the contest will be held. Organizers are hoping to have the contest take place over four consecutive days.

Tsurigasaki Beach

Tsurigasaki Beach is over 100kms (40mi) away from Tokyo and was chosen as the spot to hold the Summer Olympics as it’s susceptible to multiple swell directions and generally consistent. Home to Japanese surf pros Hiroto Ohara and Reo Inaba, the beach break will no doubt provide interesting conditions to watch. Think peaky beach break over big barrels or anything truly high stakes or high performance.

List of surfers attending the Olympics

There are 20 male surfers and 20 female surfers attending the Summer Olympics.

Men – Surf competitors in Summer Olympics

Leandro UsunaArgentina
Julian WilsonAustralia
Owen WilsonAustralia
Italo FerreiraBrazil
Gabriel MedinaBrazil
Manuel SelmanChile
Michel BourezFrance
Jeremy FloresFrance
Leon GlatzerGermany
Rio WaidaIndonesia
Kanoa IgarashiJapan
Hiroto OhharaJapan
Ramzi BoukhiamMorocco
Billy StairmandNew Zealand
Lucca MesinasPeru
Miguel TudelaPeru
Federico MoraisPortugal
Jordy SmithSouth Africa
Kolohe AndinoUSA
John John FlorenceUSA

Women – Surf competitors in Summer Olympics

Sally FitzgibbonsAustralia
Stephanie GilmoreAustralia
Silvana LimaBrazil
Tatiana Weston-WebbBrazil
Brisa HennessyCosta Rica
Leilani McGonagleCosta Rica
Mimi BaronaEcuador
Johanne DefayFrance
Pauline AdoFrance
Anat LeliorIsrael
Mahina MaedaJapan
Amuro TsuzukiJapan
Daniella RosasPeru
Sofia MulanovichPeru
Teresa BonvalotPortugal
Yolanda SequeiraPortugal
Ella WilliamsNew Zealand
Bianca BuitendagSouth Africa
Caroline MarksUSA
Carissa MoreUSA

Surfing Olympics 2021 teams

The following countries will have surf teams at the Summer Olympics:

  • Argentina (1 surfer)
  • Australia (4 surfers)
  • Brazil (4 surfers)
  • Chile (1 surfer)
  • Costa Rica (2 surfers)
  • Ecuador (1 surfer)
  • France (4 surfers)
  • Germany (1 surfer)
  • Indonesia (1 surfer)
  • Israel (1 surfer)
  • Japan (4 surfers)
  • Morocco (1 surfer)
  • New Zealand (2 surfers)
  • Peru (4 surfers)
  • Portugal (3 surfers)
  • South Africa (2 surfers)
  • United States (4 surfers)

How did surfers get chosen for the Olympics?

Surfers qualified for the Olympics based on a handful competition events: The 2021 World Surf League Championship Tour, the Pan-American Games, and the International Surf League World Surfing Games. Things got a bit dramatic and messy during these qualifying rounds, but it all shook out in the end.

Scoring and rules of surfing in the Olympics

The event will take place over four days and comprise of six rounds of 30-minute heats. Each surfer may catch as many waves as they want during this time, but only the top two waves will be counted towards their final score. Each wave is scored on a scale from 0 to 10 based on somewhat subjective criteria.

Round one will have four surfers per heat.

Round two will have five surfers per heat.

Round three onwards will have one on one heats.

Waves are scored according to the following criteria:

  1. Commitment and difficulty: This is the top consideration in scoring waves during the Olympics. Higher-risk waves will be awarded more points than lower-risk waves. The judges will be looking at wave selection, stakes, and commitment each surfer makes for each wave. Because Tsurigasaki surf break is not known for being particularly dangerous, we’ll likely see every surfer competing be willing to take the biggest waves that come through.
  2. Innovation and progression: Will any new moves be pulled? If so, these will be awarded more points.
  3. Variety: Surfers who do multiple types of maneuvers will be scored higher than those who do the same thing over and over.
  4. Combination: Olympic surfers who have the capacity to connect each maneuver in a stylish way will see higher scores.
  5. Speed, power, and flow: This is surf competition lingo for style. This looks at how a surfer is able to read a wave and react accordingly. Can the surfer make it around the different sections? Do they have flow? If so, the surfer will see a higher score.

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What questions do you have about surfing at the Summer Olympics?