Kanoa Igarashi sealed his Tokyo Olympic selection Monday at the World Surfing Games in El Salvador, the final qualifier for this summer’s games.
The 23-year-old needed only to participate in the ongoing event after placing sixth in the World Surf League’s Championship Tour in 2019. The top 10 surfers on the tour earned Tokyo Games berths, provided they took part in the ensuing World Surfing Games.
Igarashi, whose parents moved to California before he was born and raised him near the waves of surfing hotspot Huntington Beach, became the first Japanese winner of a Championship Tour event when he took out the Corona Bali Protected in May 2019.
He switched his competitive nationality in 2018 in a bid to represent his parents’ country at the Tokyo Games, where surfing will make its Olympic debut.
Igarashi sits ninth in the Championship Tour this season with five of 10 events completed.
All berths in the men’s and women’s Olympic fields — each totaling 20 surfers — will be filled at the World Surfing Games.
Japan is guaranteed one automatic berth as the host in both the men’s and women’s events for the Tokyo Olympics and could earn another in each depending on the results in El Salvador.
Hiroto Ohara or Shun Murakami could join Igarashi in the men’s field for Japan at the games, while Shino Matsuda, Mahina Maeda and Amuro Tsuzuki are vying for up to two spots available for Japanese women.
The Olympic surfing competition will take place at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach in Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo.
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