"I’m choosing to represent my family's heritage, and my cultural background."
Lots happening, right now, on the word stage. Yevgeny Prigozhin’s presumed death in Russia opened multiple questions. Who will lead his Wagner Group moving forward and will the fiercely loyal fighters protest or fall in line under reported new commander Anton “Lotus” Yelizorv? China’s economic growth has slowed down leading to an implosion of its real estate markets. Is there a possible upside for the west? The Spanish soccer federation’s chief, Luis Rubiales, has been suspended for kissing star Jenni Hermoso after La Roja took out the women’s World Cup. Will he argue that, as a Spaniard, kissing whatever, whenever is a national right? And that Jenni’s last name is beautiful?
Getting most attention, though, is the shock defection of the world’s current 11th best surfer, Connor O’Leary, from Australia to Japan.
The 29-year-old goofy footer announced the move on Instagram, writing:
I‘m excited to announce that in 2024 I will be representing Japan on the WSL World Tour.
I will also seek representation for Japan at the Paris 2024 Olympics by competing in the next ISA World Surfing Games.
After much reflection and consideration I am choosing Japan. I’m choosing to represent my family’s heritage, and my cultural background.
The decision was made internally back in October 2022 and it has been a challenging process to complete the transfer of nations.
I am happy it is final and i can officially share it with you all.
It feels right so Lets go!!
Excited for what’s to come.
Kanoa Igarashi, who defected from Huntington Beach, California to Japan nearly four years ago and won silver for the Land of the Rising Sun in the 2020 Olympics did not react though many surf luminaries did.
Italy’s Leo Fioravanti wrote, “Yes bro, great decision.”
Indonesia’s Rio Waida added, “Yesssss Connor san!”
Australia’s Jackson Baker swore, “Fucken oath bruva,” in unintelligible English, likely very angry about the betrayal.
The 2024 Olympics, as you know, will be held in the very scary waves of Teahupo’o on Tahiti. As O’Leary is currently ranked above Igarashi, does this mean he has now qualified and Igarashi has not?
Not that I care.
I’m mostly sad, I suppose, that defections aren’t fun like they used to be. The great Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, for example, made a dramatic splash when he fled his KGB handlers while in Paris and ran into the arms of the French at Charles de Gaulle. Going on Instagram and pledging new allegiance such a snooze.