Olympics-Surfing hopes to ride wave of popularity into Tokyo

TOKYO, April 25 (Reuters) - Surfing, buoyed by the International Olympic Committee's Agenda 2020 reforms, is targeting a spot at the Tokyo Olympics in five years time. The new reforms, approved in December, are aimed at making the Olympics more attractive, cheaper to host and allow for a more adaptable sports programme to permit quicker changes to maintain relevance with younger audiences. That was music to the ears of International Surfing Association (ISA) president Fernando Aguerre, with the Argentinian long pushing for its inclusion during his eight terms as head of the body. "I am sure it will be one of the first Olympic venues to sell out of tickets," he was quoted as saying by Kyodo News on Saturday. "Today you go to any beach around the world and people are dressed like surfers, wearing surf brands, and they all want to surf. "Surfing is a young sport, it's practiced by people of all ages, but it's also a sport that has captivated the hearts and minds of young people around the world." Surfing faced previous Olympic rejection over fears about a lack of waves at certain venues but the 57-year-old Aguerre said technology had been developed to create waves almost two metres high to come at regular intervals. "The waves will be as good as the ocean but on demand, providing a level sporting field for competition because all waves would be the same." He said outdoor wave parks were being built in Spain, Britain and the United States to meet demand and that the Olympics would prove the pinnacle for the sport practiced by more than 35 million people. The ISA also oversees stand-up paddleboarding. Aguerre pointed to the success of snowboarding at the 1988 Nagano Olympics in Japan as having been a great success with younger audiences, which he thought surfing could replicate in Tokyo. "It made the winter games, as a whole, appealing to masses of viewers and fans that were not attached before," he said. (Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien)