Asia Minute: Surfing as an Olympic Sport for the Tokyo Games?

Sep 29, 2015

Surfing in Chiba, Japan
Credit Tsuyoshi Uda / Flickr

The surf could be up for the Tokyo Olympics.  Surfing is one of the sports the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee is suggesting be added to the games it hosts in 2020.  HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Surfing is one of five sports the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee is recommending as part of the 2020 summer games.  There’s baseball and softball, karate, sports climbing, skateboarding and surfing which is popular in Japan.  Surf boards in their travel bags frequently rattle off the luggage carousel at the Honolulu airport on flights from Narita.

There are definitely home-grown waves—on the island of Honshu alone surf spots can be found in Kamakura, Chiba, Kanagawa, Izu and more.  Indoor wave pools were popular for a time in Japan.  Wild Blue Yokohama had a run in the 1990’s and then there was the “Ocean Dome” in Miyazaki—on the southern island of Kyushu.  That was the largest wave pool in the world for a while - before it ran into financial trouble and closed.

There’s a history to surfing in Japan—and not just with the fiberglass boards American GI’s brought with them after World War Two.  Old-style Japanese wooden boats had removable floor boards and historians say children would take them out of the boats and use them to ride waves.  The surfing proposal for the Tokyo games is still just a recommendation---the International Olympic Committee will make a final decision next summer.