Kelly Slater discusses his concerns about Tokyo 2020

October 31, 2019 | Surfing
Kelly Slater: he thinks Tokyo 2020 should've built a wave pool in case the ocean doesn't deliver good waves | Photo: Cestari/WSL

On this weekend's edition of "In Depth with Graham Bensinger," professional surfer, environmental activist, and businessman Kelly Slater details some of his concerns about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The greatest surfer of all time discusses Japan's historically small wave size, the radiation levels in the water, and the capturing and killing of dolphins in Taiji Cove.

Slater, 47, is vying to compete in Tokyo and also talks about the qualification process leaving out some of the best surfers.

He dissects developing his own artificial wave technology, and how it could impact the sport of surfing. Plus, he and host Graham Bensinger catch a few waves at the Surf Ranch, in Lemoore, California.

And the show delves into Slater's family life, as Slater's long-time girlfriend Kalani Miller opens up about the couple's future, including marriage and children.

Here's a quick and summarized look into the full interview which debuts across the country this weekend.

How do you view the Olympics?

Kelly Slater: The only thing I'm really worried about with the Olympics is there will be a few really great surfers left out, because of the way the qualification process happens. Because Brazil's got like five of the top ten guys in the world right now.

They're only going to be able to send two guys to the Olympics - two or maybe three maximum.

There might be some people that are worthy being left out, and then the waves might be really small. Japan's a bit tough at that time of year.

This year, that same week that they're gonna run the Olympics next year had nothing bigger than, like waist-high surf.

Kelly Slater: he competed in the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games in Japan | Photo: Evans/ISA

So, it could be a real challenge for everyone involved. I hope that's not the case. And that, you know, that brings up the conversation of wave pool technologies.

I was pretty surprised. I try not to make too strong of an opinion 'cause I'm part of a company, and that would look very biased.

But, at the same time, I thought that we should have had that as a possible way to run, in case the ocean wasn't going to provide.

So, I just think it's a good back up. I thought it would make a lot of sense for Japan, 'cause they're such a technologically advanced culture.

I just thought, "Wow, this would be something that they're bringing a new sport in, and they'll present it in a new way."

It was my kind of thinking, but that didn't happen for whatever reason.

What challenges do you think Japan has between now and the games in getting ready for surfing?

Figuring out their radiation problem. That's one. And making sure we got enough waves to surf. I don't know.

They probably don't want me talking about that.

But it's a reality, and it's actually not a laughing matter. The cancer rates in the country have skyrocketed.

And they're not telling people about that. And that's from friends of mine who live there and/or have moved out of the country because of it.

How concerned does that make you?

I think it's a huge concern.

And for a surfer, the Taiji Cove where they round up the dolphins and either kill them or sell them to amusement parks is another issue.

So there's a few things that I think won't be sort of politically correct that are spoken about during the Games.

And I think rightfully so.

But that brings up bigger topics around the world, around nuclear power, and captive animals, and the fact that we kill and eat so many animals around the world, and it's something that we all need to be aware of and do something about I think.

All right, so, how about marriage and kids?

Kalani Miller: Haha! did you ask him about that?

I did not, no.

I don't know, hopefully, one day. We're both so busy right now. So, yeah, hopefully, one day definitely.

I'm from a family of four he's from a family of three.

Now when I see people traveling with kids, I can't imagine my family or anyone doing that, it's crazy. I don't know, maybe two. Two or three.

Do you think you'd have to wait till he called it quits from World Surf League?

I don't know. Maybe. Yeah. I think it'd be hard for him to, I don't know.

It would be interesting to see him try to balance both of those things and, whatever, having to put his competitive nature aside for a second to put the baby first.

Yeah, I think it'd be interesting.

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