Surfing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021

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Surfing is finally Olympic! At the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, surfing will celebrate its Olympic premiere together with four other sports. And the first Olympic champions in surfing history have already been announced.

Surfing will have its Olympic premiere at the 2020 Olympic Games.
Surfing will have its Olympic premiere at the 2020 Olympic Games.

First Olympic Surfing Champions: American Carissa Moore and Brazilian Italo Ferreira

Favorite Italo Ferreira won the first gold medal in Olympic surfing. He coped best with the adverse conditions at Tsurigasaki Beach and won confidently ahead of the Japanese Kanoa Igarashi. The local hero, who was able to prevail against Ferreira's compatriot Gabriel Medina in the semifinals, had difficulties in finding the perfect wave in the final and thus won the first Olympic silver in surfing. Bronze went to the Australian Owen Wright. Six years after his serious surfing accident, the Australian's joy over his third place was the emotional highlight of the competition.

In the women's competition, the American Carissa Moore, one of the favorites, won the historic gold. Moore dominated both the waves and the competition, beating South African Bianca Buitendag in the final. Buitendag's entry into the finals was a little surprise and at the same time the crowning glory of her career, as she announced that she would quit the surfboard after the Olympics. Another surprise in the small final for bronze: Here the Japanese Amuro Tsuzuki prevailed against the favorite Caroline Marks.

Which Surfing Competitions Will Be Held at the 2021 Olympics?

In total, two surfing competitions will be held at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

  • Men's Shortboard
  • Women's Shortboard

Four athletes will be in the water at the same time and each will have 20 to 25 minutes to show their skills. The two highest scores indicate the overall score of an athlete. After each surfed wave a jury evaluates the results and awards a grade from one to ten with two decimal places. Decisive for the evaluation are among other things the degree of difficulty, the speed and the flow of the respective manoeuvre.

Only one athlete is allowed to surf a wave at a time. Whoever is closer to the wave's peak has the priority on the wave.

When and Where Do the Surfing Competitions Take Place at the 2021 Olympics?

The original idea of surfing on artificial waves was discarded. Instead, the surfing competitions took place at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach in Ichinomiya, about 65 kilometers outside of Tokyo. 

Since surfing competitions are heavily dependent on wind conditions and the best possible conditions should be guaranteed for the athletes, a total of eight days were set as the staging period prior to the Olympic Games. After the start of the competition, it should be held within four days.

For the surfing premiere at the Olympic Games, however, weather conditions were anything but perfect. The preliminary rounds started on July 25th and if there was fear of a calm wave at first, on the second day of the competition strong winds, gray skies and unpredictable waves announced the approaching Typhoon Nepartak. For some time it was even unclear whether the competitions could be continued.

Which Athletes Are Qualified?

A total of 20 men and 20 women took part in the competitions. In addition to the medal winners Italo Ferreira (gold), Carissa Moore (gold), Kanoa Igarashi (silver), Bianca Buitendag (silver), Owen Wright (bronze) and Amuro Tsuzuki (bronze), the following athletes qualified:


  • Leandro Usuna (Argentina)
  • Julian Wilson (Australia)
  • Gabriel Medina (Brazil)
  • Michel Bourez (France)
  • Jeremy Flores (France)
  • Jordy Smith (South Africa)
  • Kolohe Andino (USA)
  • John John Florence (USA)
  • Manuel Selman (Chile)
  • Leon Glatzer (Germany)
  • Hiroto Ohhara (Japan)
  • Lucca Messinas (Peru)
  • Miguel Tudela (Peru)
  • Ramzi Boukhiam (Morocco)
  • Rio Waida (Indonesia)
  • Frederico Morais (Portugal)
  • Billy Stairmand (New Zealand)

In the run-up to the games, the Brazilians Italo Ferreira and Gabriel Medina, who have won the previous two editions of the World Surf League, were among the favorites, and the American John John Florence also had good chances for the title.


  • Mimi Barona (Ecuador)
  • Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia)
  • Stephane Gilmore (Australia)
  • Silvana Lima (Brazil)
  • Tatiana Weston-Webb (Brazil)
  • Brisa Hennessy (Costa Rica)
  • Johanne Defay (France)
  • Caroline Marks (USA)
  • Leilani McGonagle (Costa Rica)
  • Pauline Ado (France)
  • Mahina Maeda (Japan)
  • Daniella Rosas (Peru)
  • Teresa Bonvalot (Portugal)
  • Yolanda Sequeira (Portugal)
  • Sofia Mulanovich (Peru)
  • Anat Lelior (Israel)
  • Ella Williams (New Zealand)

Carissa Moore and Stephanie Gilmore have dominated women's surfing for years. They were also considered top favorites in Japan.

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