Just over three weeks away from the long awaited pandemic delayed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, surf is on the horizon as the celebrated island sport will make its debut in the summer games with a party of five of Hawaii surfers taking a seat at the historic table.
World Surf League world champions Carissa Moore and John John Florence of O’ahu will represent the United States with Brisa Hennesy surfing for Costa Rice. Kauai’s Tatiana Weston Webb will carry the Brazilian flag, while the North Shore’s Mahina Maeda gets to enjoy the host country advantage.
Maeda, will surf for her parent’s home country of Japan as the 23 year old who is on the cusp of earning world championship tour status is provided an opportunity to both embrace her dual citizenship while perpetuating the cultural significance of her beloved sport.
“My dad has the same kind of mindset as me too. We both would have loved to represent Hawaii in the Olympics but the opportunity was super slim and the only way I could really achieve my goal was to switch over and I’m going to do my best to really represent both sides of my heritage.”
Maeda, a former junior world champion, admits it was difficult to switch her WSL affiliation from Hawaii to Japan, but understanding that Hawaii will not have a separate team for the Olympics like on the surfing tour, the opportunity to increase her chances at being an Olympian was too good to pass up while also honoring her background.
“Whatever country that you’re representing, I think the main part that all surfers whether we’re from Hawaii or not is the fact that we’re representing surfing in the Olympics,” said Maeda. “That was one of the goals that Duke Kahanamoku really wanted to do as the image of surfing. We are making that dream come true. I’m definitely really excited to do something that our ancestors of the Hawaiians did back in the day and being able to bring it to the modern day era.”
Maeda has already gone through the quarantine process in Japan to allow her a chance to acclimate herself to the beach that will host the Olympics competition.
Opening ceremonies are scheduled to be held n July 24 with surf permitting, contest dates will run between July 25-August 1 at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach in Chiba, Japan.