While surfing has been officially recommended for inclusion at the 2020 Olympic Games, the response from the public and professionals has been a mixed one.
The President of the International Surfing Association, Fernando Aguerre, is understandably pleased. “We are immensely proud of our sport and what it would bring to the Games and we will continue to work closely with the Olympic Movement to achieve our Olympic dream.”But not everyone sees the positives in this move.
Other sports being considered for inclusion are skateboarding, sport climbing, karate, baseball. Skateboarding and surfing have been suggested as a means of having more “youth appeal”, but there are already millions of “youth” watching the Olympics and aspiring to one day be an Olympian themselves. If anything, these two action sports are considered by many as “trendy” and “edgy”. As Commisioner Kieran Perrow says, “Surfing’s international growth over the past few years, its loyal and enthusiastic fans combined with its globally recognized athletes makes it an ideal sport to showcase on the Olympic stage”.
We have to remember though, that the legendary surfers of today will not be young enough to compete anymore – Kelly Slater will be a fatherly 48, Mick Fanning will be 39, John John Florence will be a ripe 27. Today's surfers will likely have to be judges instead, wishing that Olympic surfing existed back in their day. Today's amateur surfers will be the Olympic stars of tomorrow, and possibly not as talented as the big names we're familiar with now.
There's also concern amongst fans and athletes alike that the situation will be similar to snowboarding, where the Olympic judging criteria was rather restrictive in allowing freedom of expression through mind-blowing tricks. And the all-important question - will the event be held at the beach or in a mechanised wave pool?
We only have to wait until Rio 2016 for these concerns to be addressed. Not long at all.