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The International Olympic Committee has approved the addition of surfing among several new sports this year. As the games approach, FRANCE 24 takes a look at the discipline, its history, its specificities and the pitfalls that the 40 athletes will face in the Japanese waves.

In surfing, the sea dictates the rules: If a wave is plunging, surfers can “tube-ride” in its barrel; if it’s a spilling wave, they’re expected to demonstrate tricks and manoeuvres.

This year, the world’s top surfers will celebrate their sport’s Olympic debut by competing on Japan’s spectacular Pacific coastline.

“Surfers have to make the most of the wave,” says Michel Plateau, national technical director for the French Surfing Federation. “There are quite precise criteria for judging in terms of commitment, power, ease, and innovation. Surfers get an overall mark out of 10 for these.”

Five judges assess surfers on each wave. A surfer’s two highest scores are then combined for an overall total.

The waves in Tokyo require special training, says Jérémy Florès, of the French surfing team. “They’re mostly small waves, so you have to prepare differently: work more on toning, go on a diet and really be as light as possible, to be able to go as fast as possible on small waves.”

Long considered a leisure activity, surfing turned professional in the 1990s.

“Including surfing in the Olympic Games for the first time is recognition for our sport. It’s now truly perceived as a sport discipline in its own right and not just a beach activity,” said Jacques Lajuncomme, president of the French Surfing Federation.

Click on the vídeo player above to watch the full report.

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