Leonardo Fioravanti: he could be representing Italy in Tokyo 2020 | Photo: Vidic/Red Bull

The surfing team that will represent Italy in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be chosen by the Italian Waterskiing and Wakeboard Federation (FISW).

The Italian surfing scene is living its own soap opera moment. In an unprecedented move, the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) has designated FISW to proceed with the selection of the surfers that will carry the Italian flag in the upcoming Olympics.

The problem is that, according to the International Surfing Association (ISA), the national governing body for the sport of surfing in Italy is the Italian Surfing Federation (FISURF).

So, how can an organization focused on waterskiing and wakeboarding be prepared to pick the best surfers in Italy? As strange as it may seem, the answer lies in a kiteboarding expert.

The FISW named Mirco Babini the new surfing sports director. Babini, who is also the president of the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA), will have a key role in determining the list of surfers for Tokyo 2020.

"My first intention is to mend disagreements between some members of the Italian surfing world, with the goal of working in harmony with those who have the skills and the enthusiasm to head to the Olympic Games," Mirco Babini expressed in an official statement.

For years, Babini and IKA lobbied for the inclusion of kiteboarding in the Olympic movement, but the sport was never able to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Windsurfing, an Olympic sport since 1984, has always been the sailboard of choice and resisted the "attacks" made in the years leading to Rio 2016 by the ever-growing kiteboarding influence.

The CONI decision had an impact on FISURF. Andrea Bonfili, the man leading the Olympic project at FISURF, announced his resignation after comments made publicly about the controversy.

"We apologize to the FISW for any inconvenience that the statements from the surfing world may have caused. We remind everyone that the choices imposed recently are as complicated for us as they are for the FISW, but this is the only way dictated by CONI at the moment," FISURF later explained.