The World Surf League is on hiatus, currently, with various professional surfers and staff en route to South Africa where event number nine, the J-Bay Open, is set to kickoff shortly. Jordy Smith will be there and so will Kelly Slater, who has miraculously recovered from spinal meningitis. Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer will be there, likely in a fancy swimming pool, but Chief Executive Erik Logan will not because he was fired for… well, let’s just say more as the story develops.
Six days without professional surfing can seem an eternity, though, and surf fans were very much looking forward to the World Beach Games, hosted in Bali this year. Over 1,500 athletes from 100 countries were set to compete in the “youth-focused tournament” featuring sports including beach soccer, surfing, sailing and beach volleyball.
While organizers may not know that surfing is no longer “youth focused,” it doesn’t really matter because overnight Indonesia has withdrawn as host thereby cancelling the fun.
The government cited budget issues though savvy geopolitical thinkers think Israel’s inclusion is likely the true cause.
Three months ago, FIFA wagged a finger and removed Indonesia’s right to host the U-20 Men’s World Cup after the predominately Muslim nation objected to Israel being invited. The country has no diplomatic ties with the bravest Middle Eastern apartheid state and anti-Israel sentiment runs high amongst the population.
Indonesia National Olympic Committee spokesperson Raja Sapta Oktohari said the World Beach Games were cancelled “with a heavy heart,” but that did not stop the Association of National Olympic Committees from angrily declaring, “It is with great surprise and extreme disappointment that ANOC has learnt that the Indonesian Olympic Committee (KOI) has withdrawn from its commitment to host the ANOC World Beach Games and the ANOC General Assembly in August 2023.”
Though I am no sporting body governor nor diplomat, I would suggest something a little stronger. Something like this:
To the WSL community,
I want to address the conversation that happened in our community following the recent Championship Tour event at the Surf Ranch. As you likely know, a small number of athletes made statements questioning the judging of the competition and the final results.
I want to respond directly to those statements, however, we first need to address a much more important issue. In recent days, a number of surfers, WSL judges, and employees have been subject to harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence, including death threats, as a direct result of those statements. Those things should never happen in our sport or any sport, and we’re devastated that members of our community have been subject to them. It is an important reminder to us all that words have consequences. We hope the entire WSL community stands with us in rejecting all forms of harassment and intimidation.
In terms of the statements made, we completely reject the suggestion that the judging of our competitions is in any way unfair or biased. These claims are not supported by any evidence.
Firstly, the judging criteria are provided to the athletes ahead of each competition. All athletes competing at the Surf Ranch Pro received these materials on May 20th. Every athlete had the opportunity to ask questions about the criteria at that time. None of the athletes who made these statements took advantage of this opportunity at the Surf Ranch Pro.
Secondly, our rules allow any athlete to review the scoring of any wave, with the judges, and receive a more detailed explanation of how they were scored with the judges. This process has been in place for a number of years, and is the direct result of working with the surfers to bring more transparency to the judging process. It is not acceptable, and is a breach of league policy, for surfers to choose not to engage with the proper process and instead air grievances on social media.
A number of athletes at the Surf Ranch Pro received points for elements such as progression and variety, so it is simply incorrect to suggest these are not taken into account in the judging criteria. Furthermore, our rules have been applied consistently throughout the season, including at events this season that were won by athletes who are now questioning those same rules.
Surfing is an ever-evolving, subjective sport and we welcome a robust debate around the progression of our sport and the criteria used to judge our competitions. However, it is unacceptable for any athlete to question the integrity of our judges who, like our surfers, are elite professionals.
No one person or group of people are above the integrity of the sport.
WSL Chief Executive Officer