Surfing in Tokyo 2020: the official competition format

February 18, 2021 | Surfing
Japan: surfing will make its Olympic Debut at Tsurigasaki Beach | Photo: Jimenez/ISA

The International Surfing Association (ISA) announced the official competition format for surfing's Olympic debut in Tokyo, Japan.

For the first time in the sport's history, surfers will compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals in the Olympic Games.

Surfing's road to the Olympic Games was long and strenuous and mainly conducted by Fernando Aguerre, president of the ISA.

The Olympic Surfing Festival will take place at Tsurigasaki Beach, 62 miles (100 kilometers) away from Tokyo, from July 25 to August 1, 2021.

The organizers plan to crown the first Olympic surfing champions after four days of competition.

However, they might need more time to complete the event depending on the ocean conditions.

The famous Japanese surfing beach is located in Ichinomiya, a small town in the Chiba Prefecture facing the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the best surf spots in Japan.

The event will feature 20 male surfers and 20 female athletes who secured a qualifying spot at the Pan American Games, ISA World Surfing Games, and World Surf League.

Tokyo 2020's surfing format has been unveiled and is quite similar to a regular surf contest, with 30-minute heats and knockout rounds.

Tsurigasaki Beach, Japan: the official surfing venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games | Photo: ISA

Heat Draw and Seeding Order

The initial phase comprises two rounds: Round 1 (20 surfers), Round 2 (10 surfers).

In Round 1, there will five heats of four athletes - the top 2 in each heat will advance through to Round 3, i.e., ten surfers.

Round 2 is a repechage round and will have two heats of five surfers.

The top 3 will move to Round 3; the two bottom finishers in each heat will be out of the competition.

Surfing in Tokyo 2020: Round 1 and 2

The main round is comprised of five stages: Round 3 (16 surfers), quarterfinals (8 surfers), semifinals (4 surfers), bronze match-up (2 surfers), and final (2 surfers).

In Round 3, the format will have the highest-ranked surfers seeded against the lowest-ranked surfers from Round 1 and 2.

From Round 3 onward until the final, the competition adopts a two-man and two-woman heat format.

In the end, the Olympic surfing format is expected to run a total of 23 heats.

Surfing in Tokyo 2020: Main Rounds

The qualification process for the Olympic Surfing Festival will be concluded after the 2021 ISA World Surfing Games.

The decisive event takes place in El Salvador from May 29 to June 6, 2021.

Learn more about the process that led to the inclusion of the sport in the Olympic movement.

Discover the best surf spots in Japan.

  • It's 45 °F, and I am at 45 degrees North, 70 miles east of the coast.
  • Learn how to draw a realistic beach scene with towels, chairs, umbrellas, balls, lifeguard towers, palm trees, and beachgoers with our quick and easy step-by-step tutorial for beginners.
  • Have you ever woke up early to watch the sun greet and bring a new morning? It is definitely worth it. Enjoy the most inspiring sunrise quotes of all time.