ATHENS (Reuters) - Surfing should be eligible for a cut of Olympic Games revenues distributed by the International Olympic Committee, after being picked for the 2024 Paris Olympics following their debut at the Tokyo Games next year.
The President of the International Surfing Association (ISA) Fernando Aguerre said while the sport was not eligible for any money distributed to the 28 core sports by the IOC after Tokyo, its presence in Paris meant it was no longer a one-Games sport.
“We get nothing for Tokyo from the revenue sharing of the Games,” Aguerre told Reuters in an interview. “But we need to have that discussion now, to have a review. Because we are not a sport of one Games.”
Surfing, sports climbing, skateboarding, karate and baseball and softball are part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, having been proposed by the Japanese hosts.
As such they are not part of the revenue sharing plan of the IOC for the permanent 28 sports, divided into five groups with the top sports like athletics and gymnastics receiving about $50 million.
That, Aguerre said, should change now that surfing will be in Paris and likely also in the Los Angeles 2028 Games.
“We had accepted that for Tokyo. But now it is a different situation with likely three Games,” he said.
“All indications are that it could be part of LA 2028. LA is the epicentre of modern day surfing. With the likelihood of three Games... surfing will be a permanent Olympic sport. We are not a one-night stand.”
“We are a small federation, we don’t charge entry fees at events because the beach is open. Oceans are free,” he added.
The ISA receives some funds from the IOC for development programmes.
“There has to be a discussion so that surfing is rated as a permanent sport. Just look at the value we will bring to the Games. We must have that discussion with the IOC,” Aguerre said.
With the IOC eager to rejuvenate the Olympics to attract a younger audience, surfing with its rapidly growing popularity is expected to be among the highlights in Tokyo.
For the Paris 2024 Olympics, surfing is planning for an even bigger show in Tahiti, part of French Polynesia.
“Tahiti will deliver tremendous value,” Aguerre said. “It is one of the birthplaces of surfing culture. Surfing is Polynesian. It is looking into the future.”
Critics, however, argue it is a waste of resources and money to travel some 15,000 kilometres away from the French capital for a sports event.
Aguerre brushed off the criticism, saying there would be no construction needed to hold the competition and only minor costs.
“Olympics is being hosted by the city but events are held away from it. Think of sailing in Beijing for example,” he said.
“If there is something that we are learning of COVID-19 is that you can have tremendous impact without having 10,000 people watching live on site.
“It will have tremendous value to the Paris Games. Overall critics are missing the point. They are thinking about some additional costs which at the end of the day are nominal.
“There will be no stadium, no specifically built field of play, it’s done, it’s there, the ocean. No buildings. For tennis you need a club, courts, for basketball a club, a gym. With surfing you grab your board and you are out there.”
Aguerre is also hoping to include stand up paddling competitions in Los Angeles if surfing makes the cut.
“SUP for Los Angeles? We are getting our ducks in a row,” he said.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge
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