(Reuters) – Focus on surfing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics:
THE ABSOLUTE BASICS * Surfing is making its Olympic debut as part of the IOC’s bid to attract a younger audience to the Games * Shortboards, which are around 1.8 meters in length, will be used for the competition
* A panel of judges awards scores for performance with points based on the level of difficulty of manoeuvres, execution and other factors.
* Round one features four athletes per heat while round two will have five. From round three onwards, the athletes go head-to-head.
* In each heat, surfers have 30 minutes to catch as many waves as they want, with only the top two waves from each surfer being included in their final score.
HOW MANY MEDALS? There are two gold medals on offer, one for men and one for women.
WHAT HAPPENED IN RIO? Surfing was not on the programme
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN TOKYO? A battle between traditional powers such as the United States and Australia and up-and-coming nations like Brazil. Watch out for mind games between competitors too: sometimes in a heat, an athlete with the right of way might seem disinterested before suddenly jumping on a wave in an effort to put off their fellow competitors.
It will be typhoon season at the height of the Japanese summer, which could play havoc with weather conditions.
WHAT’S NEW? Everything – and if the event is successful other forms such as longboarding and bodyboarding may be added to the programme.
WHEN IS IT HAPPENING? July 25 to Aug. 1
WHERE IS IT HAPPENING? Tsurigasaki, also known as Shidashita, Beach, Chiba, around 65km from Tokyo.
HOW DID WE GET HERE? The IOC has tried to keep itself relevant and is introducing several sports to appeal to a younger audience. Surfing campaigned for years to be included as an Olympic sport and it was finally recognised as such in August 2016.
“We’ve been paddling for 22 years to get here,” International Surfing Association President Fernando Aguerre said.
WELL FANCY THAT
In 2015, Australian surfer Owen Wright suffered a brain injury which resulted in him having to learn to talk, walk and the surf again. He returned to the surfing scene in 2017 and posted top 10 finishes over the next three years, and will compete in Tokyo.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Peter Rutherford)