Editor’s Note: We’ve updated our original Olympics surfing coverage with results.
Just like sport climbing, this year marks the first year surfing will be included in the Summer Olympics. Here’s all you need to know.
For years, athletes from around the world have been competing on the world stage through the World Surf League (WSL), formerly the ASP, and International Surfing Association (ISA) events. Now, seasoned surfers from the U.S., Australia, Brazil, and more will get to compete at the Olympics.
In 2016, surfing was approved by the International Olympic Committee and slated for Tokyo 2020. This summer, for the first time, professional surfers will compete in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Check out all the details in our Olympics feature, or jump to a specific section below:
Results: Olympic Surfing
Update: The first-ever Olympic surfing competition in Tokyo is complete. Athletes competed in three rounds with multiple heats, before top athletes moving on to quarterfinals, and then the semifinals. The final podium events wrapped up yesterday (technically, July 27 in Tokyo).
Before the medal events, athletes had to make it through a bracket-style competition of various heats. Kolohe Andino, 27, of the USA made it to the men’s quarterfinals, while Carissa Moore, 28, and Caroline Marks, 19, of the USA both made it to the semifinals.
Caroline Marks made it to the women’s surfing bronze medal match against Japanese surfer Amuro Tsuzuki, but ultimately finished with a lower score and placing fourth, just shy of the podium. Carissa Moore won gold in surfing, becoming the first-ever Olympic gold medalist surfer. Her top wave had a score of 14.93.
Here’s the final podium standing for men’s and women’s surfing:
- Women’s Gold: Carissa Moore, USA
- Women’s Silver: Bianca Buitendag, South Africa
- Women’s Bronze: Amuro Tsuzuki, Japan
- Men’s Gold: Italo Ferreira, Brazil
- Men’s Silver: Kanoa Igarashi, Japan
- Men’s Bronze: Owen Wright, Australia
Learn more about the athletes below.
Surfing in the Olympics: How It Will Work
Forty athletes total, 20 men and 20 women, will compete in this event. For its inaugural year at the Olympics, 17 countries are represented: Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, the U.S., Morocco, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Israel, Ecuador, and New Zealand.
Most sports in the Olympics are divided into disciplines — for surfing there is just one. Athletes will compete in initial and then final rounds of open water, big wave surfing. Surfers are judged on special Olympic Judging Criteria, which factors in the type of maneuver, variety, and speed, power, style, and flow.
The criteria reflect “the definition of good surfing,” according to the International Olympic Committee, and are based pron the key elements of the sport and degree of difficulty.
The initial rounds will have four- or five-person heats, and the main rounds will have two-person heats, with the winner advancing to the next round.
Within each heat’s 30-minute time limit, the athletes will be allowed to ride a maximum of 25 waves. An athlete’s two highest-scoring waves will count toward their heat total, which factors into their final score.
Who to Watch: Team USA Surfers
Forty world-class surfers will come together to battle it out on Japan’s Pacific Ocean coastline on Tsurigasaki Beach. Here are the athletes to watch, starting with Team USA.
John John Florence
Bio: Born in Hawaii, USA; started surfing at age 5.
Known for: Two-time World Champion surfer; prequalified for Tokyo at the 2019 WSL World Championship Tour.
Bio: Born in California, USA; started competing in surfing at age 8, won his first youth competition at age 15.
Known for: At age 15, he became the youngest surfer to win a youth National Scholastic Surfing Association title, and holds the most NSSA titles of any male competitor; he prequalified at the 2019 WSL World Championship Tour.
Bio: Born in Hawaii, USA; started surfing at age 5.
Known for: The 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2019 WSL Women’s World Tour Champion; she won first at the 2019 WSL Championship Tour, qualifying her for the Olympics; inducted into the Surfer’s Hall of Fame in 2014.
Bio: Born in Florida, USA; started surfing at age 8.
Known for: Three-time national champion; youngest surfer to qualify for a WSL World Tour; winning second at the 2019 WSL Championship Tour; prequalified for the Olympics at that same World Championship Tour.
Who to Watch: International Surfers at the Olympics
Bio: Started surfing at age 10; started competing on the World Tour at age 17; ranked number 5 in the World Tour overall for women.
Known for: Seven-time world Champion surfer; won her first World title in her rookie season; prequalified for Tokyo at the 2019 WSL World Championship Tour.
Bio: Started surfing at age 8; has been competing in World Tour events since 2013.
Known for: Won a World Championship Tour event in 2016 (U.S. Open of Surfing) and 2021; prequalified for the Olympics at the 2019 WSL World Championship Tour.
Bio: Started surfing when he was 12; in 2019, he became the ISA World Surfing Games Champion and the World Surf League Champion.
Known for: Ranked number one in the 2019 WSL Tour; prequalified for the Olympics at the 2019 WSL World Championship Tour.
Bio: Started competing in World Tours in 2015; World 2019 Junior Champion.
Known for: Last year, Tsuzuki became the first female Japanese surfer on the Championship Tour in over 20 years; qualified for Tokyo at the 2021 World Surfing Games.
Team: Costa Rica
Bio: Born in Costa Rica and started surfing as a toddler; moved to Hawaii at the age of 8; two-time WSL Junior Tour medalist.
Known for: Qualified for the Championship Tour at the end of 2018; prequalified for the Olympics at the 2019 WSL World Championship Tour.
Bio: Started surfing at age 3; qualified for the WSL Championship Tour in 2015 at the age of 17 (youngest rookie ever on the Tour).
Known for: Racking up more Round One heat wins than any surfer on Tour in 2016; ranked #6 overall for men in 2021; prequalified for the Olympics at the 2019 WSL World Championship Tour.
Team: South Africa
Bio: Started surfing at age 3; two-time World Tour champion.
Known for: Finished in the World Tour top 5 in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019; competed in “Real Surf” at the 2013 X-Games and won gold; prequalified for the Olympics at the 2019 WSL World Championship Tour.
Bio: Began surfing competitively at age 10; first competed in the Junior Tour in 2013; won multiple ISA Junior Championship titles.
Known for: 2019 Pan American Game Champion; qualified for Tokyo at the 2021 World Surfing Games.
Bio: Began surfing as a young teen; qualified for the World Tour at age 18.
Known for: 2019 Quiksilver Pro France champion; one of the most successful European surfers of all time; prequalified for the Olympics at the 2019 WSL World Championship Tour.
Bio: He is one of five siblings who all surf; holds 2010 Rookie of the Year title; won surfing’s largest-ever prize of $300,000 at the Championship Tour Quicksilver event in 2012.
Known for: At the Pipeline Masters in 2015, Wright suffered a massive concussion and TBI and had to relearn how to walk, talk, and surf; went on to compete in 2017, ranking #6 overall; prequalified for Tokyo at the 2019 WSL World Championship Tour.
Bio: Three-time women’s World Tour champ; 2006 World Junior Champion; won two gold medals at the 2007 Youth Olympic Games.
Known for: She is the first surfer to win three ISA world titles, after most recently becoming the 2021 ISA World Surfing Games champion; in 2012, she won the first-ever Australian Open, becoming the first athlete to hold the U.S. Open and Australian Open Surf titles at one time; prequalified for the Olympics at the 2019 WSL World Championship Tour, finishing in the top 8.
Bio: Taught herself how to surf at age 7, got her first surfboard at age 14; 2008-2009 Vice World Champion.
Known for: Four-time World Championship Tour title winner; prequalified for the Olympics at the 2019 WSL World Championship Tour.
See the full roster of qualified male and female Olympic surfers.
The Olympic Games: Schedule and How to Watch
The surfing qualifications will take place July 25-27, with the finals scheduled on July 28. However, the IOC has set aside a 4-day window with alternate dates based on conditions in the water, so these dates could shift. Men’s and women’s heats will compete on the same days.
Find the 2021 Olympics on NBC on cable, and Amazon, Apple, or Roku TV. Or, watch live and recorded Olympic competitions online.