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ISA and WSL Reach Landmark Agreement on Olympic Qualification

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  • 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

The International Surfing Association (ISA) today announced an agreement with the World Surf League (WSL) on the qualification principles for surfing in the Olympics Games Tokyo 2020, ensuring the participation of the world's best surfers from the WSL Championship Tour (CT) as well as promoting universal opportunities for surfers around the world.

In principle, the agreement will see up to 18 of the 40 places 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, and a single slot (each for men and women) for the host nation (Japan).

With the support of the WSL, the ISA eligibility rules for Olympic participation will require surfers to make themselves available for their national teams to compete in the ISA World Surfing Games in 2019 and 2020 and, if selected by their National Federation, to participate.  

The final decision on the complete process is subject to the approval of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at its meeting in February 2018.

The agreement between the ISA and the WSL reinforces both organizations' commitment to the successful Olympic debut for surfing, showcasing a strong collaboration between an IOC-recognized International Olympic Federation and the professional home of the world's best surfers.  

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Surfing was confirmed as an Olympic sport for Tokyo 2020 in August of 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. 

ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, said:

"We are happy to reach this historic agreement with the WSL on the participation of their top stars in the Olympic Games and ISA World Surfing Games. The support, endorsement and collaboration of the WSL and its top professional surfers have always been an important part of our Olympic pathway to Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

"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.

"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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WSL CEO, Sophie Goldschmidt, said:

"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. We look forward to enhancing the partnership as we get closer to this fantastic opportunity." 

WSL CT surfer and Men's Athlete Rep, Adrian Buchan, said:

"I believe surfing will inject new electricity into the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. My fellow athletes and I are very excited to showcase our skills on the world's biggest sporting platform, and for this incredible opportunity to expand surfing's growing reputation as a world-class competitive sport."

WSL CT surfer and Women's Athlete Rep, Sage Erickson, said:

"It's great that the WSL and the ISA have agreed on a qualification path for the Olympics in 2020. 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."

About the International Surfing Association

The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. The ISA governs and defines Surfing as Shortboard, Longboard & Bodyboarding, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men's and Women's World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; and World StandUp Paddle (SUP, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012. 

ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 103 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro. The ISA's four Vice-Presidents are Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL).

For more information, visit www.isasurf.org

About the World Surf League 

The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world's best surfing on the world's best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world's best surfing since 1976, running in excess of 180 global events across the Men's and Women's Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport's rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels, and in doing so crowns the undisputed world champions in Men's, Women's across all divisions within the tour.

Showcasing the world's best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Tyler Wright, John John Florence, Paige Alms, Grant Baker, Phil Rajzman, Tory Gilkerson, Mick Fanning, Stephanie Gilmore, Kelly Slater, Carissa Moore, Gabriel Medina, Courtney Conlogue and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

About The International Surfing Association:

The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. The ISA governs and defines Surfing as Shortboard, Longboard & Bodyboarding, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men’s and Women’s World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; and World StandUp Paddle (SUP, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012. 

ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 103 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro. The ISA’s four Vice-Presidents are Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL). 

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