20 men and 20 women will compete in Japan for surfing's debut at the Olympics, and the world rankings at the end of the 2019 CT season will determine 18 of the 40 places at the Games (10 men and 8 women).
And because the 2019 CT sits atop the hierarchy of events in the Olympic qualification system, that means the 18 surfers atop the CT rankings will be the first chosen for Olympic selection.
It's also important to note that each competitive nation is limited to a maximum of four surfers -- two women and two men.
While final rankings won't be determined until the end of season, let's take a look at the post-Gold Coast leaderboard as a snapshot of how the Olympic Race is shaping up after the season's first event.
For the Team USA, Kolohe Andino's runner-up finish at D-bah would ensure his selection, with 2x World Champion John John Florence completing a very strong squad. The Round 2 loss by Kelly Slater, who has publicly stated his desire to finish his career at the Olympics, means the GOAT has a lot of catching up to do.
Wade Carmichael was Australia's only Quarterfinalist, so he gets his country's first slot, while brothers Mikey Wright and Owen Wright, who both finished 9th on the Gold Coast, will be left to fighting it out for the remaining allocation. You'd think though that down the track Julian Wilson should enter the reckoning.
Jordy Smith, currently ranked World No. 3, would be the sole South African representative.
That leaves three of the ten spots remaining.
While Japan is guaranteed a host nation spot -- see our Olympic Qualifying At A Glance article for more on that -- Igarashi would instead take one of the ten CT spots if his rating, as it is now, warranted selection.
While Flores and Duru both finished 17th on the Gold Coast, with surfers ranked above them ruled ineligible due to the two surfers per country per rule, one would be chosen to fly the tricolor flag in Tokyo.
Team USA would be led by Boost Mobile Pro finalists Caroline Marks and Carissa Moore. Hawaiian Malia Manuel is next in line, although you'd expect Lakey Peterson and Courtney Conlogue, who suffered shock early round losses, to be fighting hard as the year progresses.
Brazilian Tatiana Weston-Webb and France's Johanne Defay would be selected after their Quarterfinal finishes. The remaining two spots would be allocated to Costa Rican rookie Brisa Hennessy and Kiwi Paige Hareb. Like Flores or Duru on the men's side, they get their allocation because the higher ranked surfers from USA and Australia can't be picked.
Now it's obviously early days, but the ongoing battle for the 18 spots available for surfing's debut at the Olympic's should provide a fascinating subtext as the year progresses. We will keep you posted.
Eligible Olympic Surfers Based On Current Ratings:
- Italo Ferreira
- Kolohe Andino
- Jordy Smith
- John John Florence
- Gabriel Medina
- Wade Carmichael
- Owen or Mikey Wright
- Michel Bourez
- Kanoa Igarashi
- Jeremy Flores or Joan Duru
- Caroline Marks
- Carissa Moore
- Sally Fitzgibbons
- Stephanie Gilmore
- Tatiana Weston-Webb
- Johanne Defay
- Brisa Hennessy
- Paige Hareb
See our Olympic Qualifying At A Glance article for a quick look at the qualification process as a whole.