Editor's Note: 40 surfers will compete at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. 18 of those 40 surfers will qualify via the 2019 Championship Tour end-of-year rankings. The 10 men and 8 women that are allocated through the WSL come with the condition that a country cannot qualify more than two athletes per gender.
During an epic week at the Margaret River Pro where John Florence upgraded his World No. 1 status, and Lakey Peterson took her first event win of the season, the race for Olympic selection was slightly overshadowed.
Yet with more than a third of the CT calendar completed, each event is carrying more and more Olympic weight.
With 18 qualification spots available from the WSL Championship Tour, the chance for the surfers to represent their country and make surfing history is becoming real.
So if the season were to end today, the leaderboard would reflect that the following group of surfers would qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Men's Selection Based On Current Rankings:
-John John Florence (USA)
-Kolohe Andino (USA)
-Italo Ferreira (BRA)
-Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
-Jordy Smith (ZA)
-Ryan Callinan (AUS)
-Jeremy Flores (FRA)
-Julian Wilson (AUS)
-Michel Bourez (FRA)
Team USA, perhaps the most stocked for talent, would be represented by World No. 1 John Florence and his childhood rival Kolohe Andino. Their Final appearance at Margaret River has opened up a gap with Conner Coffin and Kelly Slater, the World No. 8 and World No. 9 respectively.
Kelly has publicly stated his Olympic ambitions, so expect upward pressure from the most experienced and strategic surfer in the water as the season chugs along.
For Brazil, Italo Ferreira and Filipe Toledo would be allocated the two national spots. The defending World Champ, Gabriel Medina, who has now logged back-to-back 17th place finishes, is in need of a stellar result back home at the upcoming Oi Rio Pro to haul himself into the reckoning for Tokyo.
The Australians would be lead by Ryan Callinan, whose remarkable return to the CT sees him as the World No. 9. He would be joined by Julian Wilson, whose Semifinal appearance in West Oz means he would enter the Olympic frame for the first time in 2019.
The last two spots would be claimed by the Frenchmen Jeremy Flores and Michel Bourez. This would mean that ten of the top 14 rated CT surfers would be heading to Tokyo, indicating a strong field without any outliers due to the nation and gender rules outlined above.
Women's Selection Based On Current Rankings:
-Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
-Caroline Marks (USA)
-Carissa Moore (USA)
-Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
-Brisa Hennessy (CR)
-Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)
-Johanne Defay (FRA)
-Silvana Lima (BRA)
Australia's Steph Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons have a pretty strong lock on the nation's qualification spots, and based on past performance it's hard to see how the two veterans won't be going for Gold in 2020.
The competition for the two spots on Team USA however is much more fierce. Caroline Marks and Carissa Moore would be selected on the current rankings. However, Courtney Conlogue, the Margaret River Pro winner Lakey Peterson and Malia Manuel all lie within close striking distance.
Costa Rican Brisa Hennessy continues to impress on her first year on the CT and looks to have already gone a long way to cement her Olympic debut. Costa Rica only sent 11 athletes in total to the 2016 Olympics in Rio and has won just four medals since the their first Olympic appearance in 1936. Making the team would be a huge boost for the Central American nation's chance of a landing another medal.
That would leave Johanne Defay as the sole French female surfer in the Olympic field.
For a full rundown of the process please refer to the official ISA Qualification System.