Surfing is set to make a splash as it debuts at the Tokyo Olympics

The International Olympic Committee has approved the addition of surfing to several new sports this year. As the games approach, Jowhartakes a look at the discipline, history, specifics and pitfalls that the 40 athletes in the Japanese waves will face.

When surfing, the sea dictates the rules: when a wave dives down, surfers can “ride along” in its barrel; if it is a spilling wave, they are expected to demonstrate tricks and maneuvers.

This year, the world’s best surfers will celebrate the Olympic debut of their sport by competing on Japan’s spectacular Pacific coast.

“Surfers need to get the most out of the wave,” said Michel Plateau, national technical director of the French Surf Federation. “There are pretty precise criteria to judge in terms of effort, power, convenience and innovation. Surfers get an overall rating out of 10 for this.”

Five judges judge surfers on each wave. A surfer’s two highest scores are then combined into a total.

The waves in Tokyo require special training, says Jérémy Florès of the French surf team. “They’re usually small waves, so you have to prepare differently: work more on toning, go on a diet and really be as light as possible, to be able to go as fast as possible on small waves.”

Long considered a leisure activity, surfing became professional in the 1990s.

“Playing surfing at the Olympics for the first time is a recognition of our sport. It is now really seen as a sport discipline in its own right and not just a beach activity,” said Jacques Lajuncomme, President of the French Surf Federation.

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