In all the excitement and giddy schadenfreude over the John Florence Hurley walk-out and the Bristol scale we’ve taken our eyes off the countdown to the main prize, which is now looming in the near distance, 180 days hence, to be precise.
I’m talking about surfing’s debut as an Olympic Sport at the Tokyo Olympics of course.
During the course of researching an article for ASL about surfing’s inclusion as an Olympic sport during the closing stages of 2017, when all options were still on the table, including Slater’s wave systems, I came across a Japanese man on the organising committee who bravely stood up against the WSL juggernaut to fight for surfing in the ocean.
Alas, despite many hours of searching he now appears to be lost to history.
I like to imagine him, subjected to the passionate advocacy of our dearly departed Sophie as she hustled for the debut to take place in the basin. A long pause follows Sophie’s spiel before our hero gently raises a hand.
“No”, he says inscrutably, “surfing will take place in the ocean. At Tsurigasaki Beach.”
So, that it is written, so that it will be done.
In the course of the research I discovered something even more shocking and newsworthy.
More on that in a second.
But first, are you a fan of Japan? Me, very much.
Even though I’ve never been it occupies a very large place in my heart. In these culturally relativistic times it’s unacceptable discourse to extol the virtues of one culture over another, but could we sneak in a little list of the things Japan has a clearly superior record in?
OK: cuisine*, religion, variety of output from vending machines, high-speed trains, futuristic cities, fishing tackle, bike gears, adult entertainment, animation, automotive engineering (Toyota being the number one car of the people, Lexus being far superior as a luxury vee-hickle to the Stuttgart manufacturers), cults, animation, nature worship, forms of poetry (haiku, koan), kawaii**, work ethic, beer, architecture, snow monkeys, communal bathing, powder snow etc etc.
All undisputable facts.
The one area they are clearly deficient in, unless they meant to disrespect on purpose, is knowledge of Australian surfing. My research uncovered a video and short spiel on surfings inclusion in Tokyo titled One Minute, One Sport: Surfing. I found it right next to One Minute, One Sport: Canoe and One Minute, One Sport: Artistic Swimming.
It’s pretty good.
Until they get to the section titled “Ruling the waves at Tokyo 2020.”
John John and Kelly get mentioned for USA, as does Kolohe. Respectful.
The Brazilian Storm is referenced, appropriately. Gabriel and Adriano and Italo all make the cut. No Filipe, but no harm: he missed out.
Jordy Smith for South Africa and former World Number One Kanoa Igarashi, surfing for Japan are brought into the fold.
When it comes to the Australian contingent, we get the long sword in the guts. Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning are touted as our potential representatives. Fanning retired two years before the Olympics!
Parkinson hasn’t been seen in a coloured jersey for almost as long.
I’m right now, writing pre-emptive letters of protest on behalf of Owen Wright and Julian Wilson. This disrespect cannot stand. Is Australian competitive surfing that far down the shitter that even the Olympic committee, with it’s legendary wisdom in facing down the WSL onslaught, doesn’t recognise the existence of our Olympic representatives?
Bad omens for Aus surfing.
Tell me, how pumped are you on surfings Olympic debut, on a scale of one to ten where one is you’d rather shoot heroin in the eyeball than watch and ten is cashing in your kids education fund to be there in person?
I’m hovering between a four and a six. Maybe a high seven if Italo surfs it in cut-offs during a typhoon swell.
*Any cuisine where the belly flap of the toadfish with it’s potentially lethal dose of tetrodotoxin is served up for culinary kicks has to be number one.
** Japanese cute culture.