Five reasons you can't miss the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games!

The big names, stories to follow, and how to watch the world's best surfers earn their their ticket to Tokyo 2020 live on

By Ashlee Tulloch

We know surfing is making it's Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, but the question remains, which surfers will be there?

The picture will become clearer as the world’s best National Surfing Teams pull on their athlete jerseys to represent their countries at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games from September 7-15.

The event in Miyazaki, Japan will be an historic first, as athletes can directly qualify for Tokyo 2020.

Along with record breaking participation, the line-up for this year's competition is the most impressive in the events history.

Here's our guide to how surfers can get an Olympic golden ticket, which big names are involved, and the schedule of events for a competition that you can watch live on

Olympic Qualification

Eight golden Tokyo 2020 tickets are up for grabs.

Qualification is on a continental basis with the top eligible male and female from Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceania set to earn a place at the Games next year.

A total of 20 men and 20 women will compete at Tokyo 2020 with a maximum of two surfers, per gender, per National Olympic Committee.

As the host nation, Japan is allocated a place for one woman and one man.

It's important to note that the annual event is part of a hierarchical qualification process, leading with the 2019 World Surf League Championship Tour. The remaining spots will be determined through the 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, and the 2019 Pan American Games, where the Americas spots were contested in Lima in August.

Heavyweight Participants

240 athletes from a record-breaking 55 nations are set to compete.

But what really makes the 2019 edition of the ISA World Surfing Games so exciting, is the athlete list.

Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore, Gabriel Medina, Kanoa Igarashi, Carissa Moore, Jordy Smith Sally Fitzgibbons. The list goes on!

The draw card is that in order to be eligible for Olympic qualification, athletes must compete in the 2019 or 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, unless they’re injured or ill.

American Samoa, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are also competing for the first time.

Speaking in June, when named in the Australian team, defending 2018 ISA World Surfing Games champion Sally Fitzgibbons said, “I think the rehearsal vibe for what an Olympic Games would be like and the energy at this year’s ISA World Games is going to be perfect to continue to build the performance culture within Team Australia.”

''With a record amount of national teams, participation of the top athletes of the sport, and Tokyo 2020 qualification in play, this is hands down the most significant World Surfing Games in history.'' ISA President Fernando Aguerre said in a press release.

Testing, testing: 1, 2, 3

In many ways this event serves as another big practice for the International Surfing Association (ISA).

While the venue in Miyazaki, Japan is different to where the competition will be held for Tokyo 2020, it's a great chance for the federation to test and implement things which will occur during the games next year.

Kisakihama Beach, Miyazaki, Japan

In July, the ISA and Tokyo 2020 organisers held a test event at the Olympic surfing venues at Tsurigasaki beach which was deemed a success by the surfing federation.

''For me, the biggest three lessons were that, the event format works, that the waves are absolutely up to standard to run a high quality world class event, and that we can innovate a little bit in the way we present the sport.'' - ISA Executive Director Robert Fasulo, Speaking to the Olympic Channel in July

Like the Tokyo 2020 Games, a surfing festival will take place next to the competition site.

The objective is to enhance the spectator experience and celebrate surf culture with a music and other activities.

2019 ISA World Surfing Games map

The Slater effect

11-time World Champion Kelly Slater has transcended surfing, and not just because of his time on Baywatch.

His statistics speak for themselves.

He holds the record being the youngest man, at 20 years old and the oldest man at 39 years old to win a WSL Championship world title.

Now, aged 47, the American is in the twilight of his career, and has been battling with a foot injury since 2017, but his presence at the Surfing Games is still a big deal.

In the past Slater has been vocal about his interest in competing in Tokyo.

''If I were to make the Olympic team in 2020 I would surf. I would probably make that my official retirement after that,'' Slater told Sports Illustrated in November 2018.

Live on Olympic Channel

What better way to keep up with all the 2019 ISA World Surfing action than by watching it live on - September 7-15.

Make sure you're following us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for interviews, updates and behind the scenes coverage.

Results will also be available here.

The event will only be available on Abema TV in Japan.

2019 ISA World Surfing Games Schedule

Saturday, September 7

  • Parade of Nations and Opening Ceremony
  • Likely start to Open Women

Sunday, September 8

  • Open Women

Monday, September 9

  • Open Women

Tuesday, September 10

  • Aloha Cup (TBC)
  • Open Women
  • Start of Open Men

Wednesday, September 11

  • Finals Open Women
  • Open Men continues

Thursday, September 15

  • Finals Open Men
  • Closing Ceremony

* Tentative schedule as of September 4 and pending conditions.


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