Surfing’s Olympic debut is getting closer. Love it or loathe it, we will see the world’s best surfers competing on behalf of their nations and chasing down Olympic gold in Tokyo 2020. Over the weekend the qualification process was revealed by the International Surfing Association (ISA) and International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Here’s what you need to know:

The key elements of the qualification system are as follows: 20 men, 20 women. Maximum of 2 surfers per gender per National Olympic Committee (NOC). Qualification spots will be earned on an individual basis, by name.

In accordance with IOC guidelines, the qualification events have been determined in hierarchical order of qualification, as further explained below.

If two surfers of a gender have qualified through the first hierarchical order, that NOC will not be able to qualify more surfers of that gender through qualifying events lower in hierarchical order.

All surfers selected by their respective National Federations for their national teams must participate in 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games in order to be eligible for Olympic qualification.

The final details of the eligibility requirements are still under review by the ISA and the IOC.

The hierarchical order of qualification will be as follows:

2019 World Surf League Championship Tour: First 10 eligible men and first 8 eligible women.

2020 ISA World Surfing Games: First 4 eligible men and first 6 eligible women.

2019 ISA World Surfing Games: 4 men and 4 women selected based on their continent. Top finishing eligible surfer of each gender from Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

2019 Pan American Games: First eligible man and first eligible woman in the surfing competitions.

Host nation slot: One man and one woman slot will be guaranteed for the host nation of Japan, unless already filled through the above hierarchies. Should athletes from Japan qualify regularly, their slots will be reallocated to the highest ranked eligible surfers from the 2020 World Surfing Games.

International Surfing Association (ISA) President Fernando Aguerre is excited about the qualification process and he should. After all, it was his dream to see surfing make it to the Games.

“This is another historic moment for the sport of Surfing, and for all of us who have dreamt of our sport’s inclusion in the Olympic Games,” he said.

"The release of the qualification process is a key step on our journey towards Tokyo 2020 and surfers around the world now have a clear path to their Olympic dream. I am excited to see how these incredibly talented athletes perform in qualification with the target of the Olympic podium now within their sight.” 

If ISA President Fernando Aguerre looks excited, it's because he is, and so is his outfit!

Earlier this month the 2018 Australian squad was announced. The squad was selected by the Surfing Australia National Selection Committee and includes 7x World Champion Layne Beachley, 4x World Champion Mark Richards, former WSL surfer and Talent Pathway Coach Kate Wilcomes, 3x World Champion Mick Fanning and Surfing Australia Elite Program Manager Bede Durbidge.

The 2018 Australian National squad includes: Julian Wilson, Matt Wilkinson, Connor O’Leary, Adrian Buchan, Wade Carmichael, Mikey Wright, Ethan Ewing, Stuart Kennedy, Tyler Wright, Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Nikki van Dijk, Keely Andrew, Bronte Macaulay and Macy Callaghan.

“The talent pool is a deep one in Australia and it was extremely tough for the selection panel to narrow the squad down, to the 16 athletes we have announced,” said Surfing Australia CEO Andrew Stark when the squad was announced. “These athletes are deemed most likely to represent Australia in the Japan 2020 Olympics and we look forward to working with them on their quest for WSL Tour victory and towards Japan 2020 Gold Medals.”

Yes, surfing in the Olympics is very real.

The Tokyo Games will be held from July 24-August 9, 2020.