Will surfing have its chance to debut at the Olympics?
A senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has stated that the cancellation of the Olympic Games, is on the cards should the Corona Virus not be contained. Japan is reportedly spending at least $25 billion to put on the games, so there’s a lot at stake here. The IOC’s Dick Pound (yes, that’s his real name!) said, “I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo, or not?’”
Whilst Surfing was due to have its largest mainstream audience at this year’s Tokyo Olympics, fears are now that it will miss out on its would-be spectacular debut on the Olympic world stage.
Sporting events across Japan have already been called off due to the outbreak; all J-League football has been postponed until 15 March, while training for 80,000 Olympic volunteers, which was due to begin on 22 February, has been delayed for at least two months.
Everything from football matches and music concerts to the rituals that mark the opening of the March sumo tournament have been affected. Even the normally bustling Tokyo Marathon will feature only a few hundred elite athletes, whilst nearly 38,000 entrants have been told they cannot run.
The IOC estimates it has three months to wait and see what happens with the virus.
This wouldn’t be the first time a Tokyo Olympics was canceled. The 1940 games were suspended because of Japan’s war with China, but it would surely be a massive kick in the nads for the sport of surfing. Although the silver lining (if there is any?) is that surfing is already penciled in for the 2024 Olympics in France, with Teahupoo being the venue. So Olympic surfing will have its moment in the tropical sun… eventually.