The sport of surfing makes its Olympics debut at the 2021 Tokyo Summer Games, kicking off at the end of July this year. Many surf businesses will hope and pray that this global exposure creates new markets and raises surfing’s profile beyond the niche of enthusiastic and sometimes grumpy and elitist participants (surfers) who make surf culture. That’s a big maybe, but the big change will definitely happen at a local level, with the opportunity for Olympic glory on the line, you can expect administrators from the different national sports federations and olympic committees to pay much closer attention to surfing in their countries. Hopefully this translates into less politics and more support for surfing around the world and especially in Africa. Inshallah!
3 African surfers have qualified to represent their countries and vie for Olympic glory in the mostly gutless waves of Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach, Chiba, Japan. These are Jordy Smith and Bianca Buitendag of South Africa and Ramzi Boukiam from Morocco.
“It is a great feeling, I feel so proud and honoured to represent not only my country Morocco but also being the only Arab, and then to represent the whole African continent!”
Alas, the Covid Pandemic has put a huge question mark over these Summer Olympics, postponed from 2020 to next month and even now it is still debatable whether the games will go ahead. “At this time I think it will happen.” Says Ramzi. “If not, I will be very very disappointed for sure. But if they cancel it will be for a serious reason. And you know... life goes on. I will continue to do my thing and focus on my goal of qualifying for the World Championship Tour. I have already qualified for the Challenger Series, but still a long way to go!”
Alas, the small shifty waves of Chiba, Japan may not suit Ramzi’s powerful style. “For sure I perform better in real waves, but I'll have no choice and will have to try to deal with it…” He pauses and then smiles. “I am secretly hoping for a typhoon that will send us some big waves.”
But has Olympic qualification already translated into more support and interest back home? “Surfing has become more and more popular in Morocco, I don't know if this is only because of the Olympics. I finally managed to get two Moroccan sponsors: "Ain Atlas" (a mineral water brand) and "Taghazout Bay” (an eco touristic resort in Taghazout), which is a huge step forward for surfing in Morocco. So yes there is definitely more support. But to get more political interest to the sport I think I first have to bring home an olympic medal 🙂!”
You can catch Ramzi and the rest of team Africa, wherever you watch the Olympic Games from 25 July - 01 August 2021… Inshallah!