Surfing, baseball/softball among five sports added to 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

John John Florence // WSL - Stephen Robertson

It’s a sport that was born here in the islands, and now surfing will be part of the pinnacle of athletic competitions—the Olympics.

Olympic leaders approved the addition of five sports to the program of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday, including the return of baseball-softball and the introduction of youth-oriented events such as skateboarding and surfing.

International Olympic Committee members voted unanimously to accept the five-sport package, which also includes karate and sport climbing.

While it’s certainly something to celebrate, surfing is still struggling to made a splash as a high school sport here.

“I really hope it is going to motivate the ILH and the OIA to legitimize surfing sporting on Oahu,” said Daniel Ikaika Ito, surf team coach for Kamehameha Schools at Kapalama. “It’s something that we’ve been trying for for years. Maui has really embraced it.”

Ito calls the announcement a huge moment for both professional and amateur surfing and says, beyond Maui where the sport is growing, there are only a handful of schools embracing the sport.

It’s not even listed on the Hawaii High School Athletics Association website despite officially becoming part of the association in 2011.

“I think that we’re surrounded by water and the fact that surfing originated in Hawaii by the Hawaiians, it should be a no-brainer surfing is an official high school sport,” Ito adds.

Ito believes the key to growing the sport at the high school level is not only money, but commitment on the part of both coaches and athletics departments.

“I think it could be a lot more efficient with less bureaucracy and I think that comes with the program and I think that comes with helping to educate athletic programs and schools and administrators that surfing isn’t as dangerous as football,” he said. “It’s just another way we can engage in school and give them a little education at the same time, but it’s also something we should do to honor our ancestors and our kupuna.”

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