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Japanese residents may be worried about the prospect of a tropical storm forming off the coast next week, but the surfers taking part in the Olympic Games are welcoming the possibility of some big waves with open arms.

The Tokyo Olympics are being held during typhoon season and the weather is a major talking point, with heat and humidity expected to be a major factor in many sports.

But it’s the wind and waves that are of most importance for surfing, which makes its Olympics debut next week.

Surfline, which is providing forecasts for the Games, predicts rising tropical cyclone surf starting on Sunday and continuing through next week, with a prolonged run of medium-size waves during the eight-day competition window.

“There’s going to be good waves, there’s a strong typhoon here off the coast of Japan and we know that the waves are getting bigger,” International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre said in a telephone interview.

Reports of a possible storm off the coast were greeted with glee by some competitors.

A training session on Thursday at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach | REUTERS
A training session on Thursday at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach | REUTERS

“It’s small but there is swell on the way! Let’s go,” wrote Australian surfer Owen Wright on Instagram following his first practice session at Tsurigasaki Surf Beach, where competition begins on Sunday.

Surfers had been worried Tsurigasaki’s often tiny, weak waves would make it difficult to show their skills to a huge new audience.

“The waves have been a little bit small thus far, but there’s a really good swell on the way, looking like some great winds for maybe Monday, so that should give us a good platform to showcase for the world what it’s all about,” New Zealand coach Matt Scorringe told a media conference.

The weather forecast has led to a change of plans for Billy Stairmand, one of Scorringe’s athletes in the competition.

“Originally I thought it was going to be pretty small, so I brought all my small-waves boards which are shorter, flatter and little big fatter on the rails,” Stairmand told reporters.

“Now, seeing the forecasts with the swell coming in, I brought over a few step-ups, bigger, longer boards with different tails that can do good for big conditions.”

No matter how rough the weather gets, New Zealander Ella Williams said competitors would take it as it comes.

“We’re prepared for that, we’ve been preparing for a while. It brought us here and we’ll be fine,” she said.

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