The 2018 UR World Surfing Games (WSG), held last week in Tahara, Japan, was a preview of the excitement and inspiration in store for the sport’s historic Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.
Attended by top leaders from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, including President Yoshiro Mori, Games Delivery Officer Hidemasa Nakamura, Chief Operating Officer Yukihiko Nunomura and Sports Director Koji Murofushi, the event took place just two years out from the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games and offered a window into the diverse, energetic and exciting legacy that Surfing looks set to leave Japan.
The host nation had a highly successful event on the waves, with Kanoa Igarashi and Shun Murakami claiming silver and copper medals and leading Japan to overall team Gold. Their performance, and the organisation of the event, is set to inspire Japan’s next generation of surfers and build momentum ahead of the 2020 Games.
Alongside Japan’s success, Argentinian Santiago Muñiz and Australian Sally Fitzgibbons took home Men’s and Women’s Gold respectively, while Team Spain claimed the tag team ISA Aloha Cup.
Nearly 200 athletes from 42 countries appeared at the event, with Iran, Hungary and the Philippines making their official first appearances. Enthusiastic, vocal crowds came out to catch the stars in action, with thousands of local and international fans heading to the shores across the seven-day event.
Importantly, the event also enjoyed excellent waves thanks to a hurricane swell offering the world’s top surfing teams exceptionally rich conditions for some outstanding performances.
The event’s live stream and Facebook webcast audience grew considerably from years past, while the Olympic Channel, CBC Canada, Fuel TV and Adrenaline (L’Equipe) TV streamed the Games to new markets and screens around the globe.
With Tokyo 2020 around the corner, the media and organizational success of the 2018 WSG is testament to surfing’s growth across Japan, and the exciting potential of the Olympic Surfing Festival venue plan and the youthful energy surfing can offer the Olympic Movement.
In celebrating the event and its legacy on Japanese and Asian Surfing, Tokyo 2020 Sports Director Koji Murofushi, said:
“We would like to congratulate the ISA, Tahara City and the Local Organising Committee on the success of the UR ISA World Surfing Games that were held in Tahara City, Aichi prefecture,” said Murofushi.
“With it being the world’s major surfing competition, our staff have had the opportunity to learn a great many things, which will help us to prepare for and smoothly manage the Tokyo 2020 Games. With just two years to go, we will continue our preparations for a memorable Tokyo 2020 Games, where surfing is due to make its Olympic debut.”
ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, said:
“What an incredible event – the perfect way to showcase surfing’s Olympic debut in two years’ time. I want to pass on my congratulations to all the competitors, organisers and colleagues that have been involved in making our time in Japan so special – we cannot wait to return.
“I also want to extend my gratitude to the Nippon Surfing Association and the Tokyo 2020 team who welcomed us so graciously. It is a pleasure to partner with them, and I am sure that the benefits of our relationship will be on display for all to see in 2020, when the very best of our sport will compete against the iconic backdrop of this incredible country.”
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 104 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).