Budget will decide surfersâ Olympic bid
Tokyo Olympics
AFP/File

Budget will decide surfers’ Olympic bid

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - August 31, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ bid to compete in surfing at the Tokyo Olympics next year will depend on whether there’s funding from PSC and with the pandemic wreaking havoc on sports budgets all over the world, it’s far from certain whether the country’s top shortboarders can make it to El Salvador where the final qualifier is set on May 8-16.

There are five men’s and seven women’s slots remaining in the race for berths in the Olympic debut of surfing. Asia has so far qualified Japan’s Shun Murakami and Kanoa Igarashi for men and Japan’s Shino Matsuda for women. As the host nation, Japan was allocated a slot each for men and women without qualifying. Since Japanese surfers booked tickets by merit, the automatic spots will be awarded to the next highest eligible finishers at the World Surfing Games in Surf City, El Salvador.

The World Surfing Games were originally scheduled last May 9-17 but postponed because of COVID-19.

If the Philippines participates in the World Surfing Games, likely to ride the waves will be John Mark Tokong and Nilbie Blancada. Since the Olympics will feature only shortboard surfing, recent SEA Games longboard gold medalist Roger Casugay isn’t a candidate. If surfing is retained for the 2024 and/or 2028 Olympics, longboarding may be added as an event along with bodyboarding and standup paddleboarding. Tokong, 24, took the bronze in men’s shortboard and Blancada, 28, the gold in women’s shortboard at the SEA Games last December. Blancada’s feat came four months after she gave birth to her first child. The dream is to qualify at least one surfer from the Philippines to the Olympics.

It will be a two-day competition in the Olympics with the surfers catching the waves at Shidashita Beach, 40 miles outside of Tokyo in Chiba. The dates of competition will fall within the Olympic calendar of July 23 to Aug. 8 but the exact schedule will depend on the quality of the waves to be determined by officials during a wait period of 16 days.

United Philippine Surfing Association vice president Luke Landrigan said the country’s surfers continue to train in La Union and Siargao under MGCQ conditions. “We will only go to El Salvador if we are funded by PSC,” he said. “If ever, our highest-ranked shortboarders for men and women will try and qualify. It will depend on funding from PSC.”

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