Maldives Surfing Association (MSA) and the national surfing squad, on Sunday evening, departed for the International Surfing Association (ISA)'s World Surfing Games (WSG) 2019, in Miyazaki, Japan.
Held at the Kisakihama beach, the event unites 240 athletes from a record-breaking 55 participating nations, pinning Maldivian surfers against the world's best, including 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, during the eight-day competition set to take place September 7-15.
MSA is taking part in the WSG following a 17-year hiatus from participation. Maldives initially competed in the 2002 instalment of the games in Durban, South Africa.
The Maldivian contingent is comprised of MSA's General Secretary Ali Ahsan, Contest Director Ahmed Rifaee Abdul Sattar, Team Manager Ibrahim Nahshal Nasir, Team Captain Hussain Areef (Iboo) and athletes Ismail Rasheed (Smiley) , Ahmed Agil (Ammaday) and Hassan Nasih (Chika).
The 2019 WSG is considered a historic event, as it is the first edition to directly qualify surfers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The 2019 World Surf League Championship Tour, the 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, and the Lima 2019 Pan American Games are part of a "hierarchical qualification process" for the Olympics.
“The best of the best will be present and putting it all on the line to earn the coveted qualification slots in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. We will see athletes qualify from four continents, putting the truly global reach of our sport on display for the entire world to see", said ISA President Fernando Aguerre.
Additionally, the organization will partake in ISA's Annual General Assembly.
Prior to their departure, the contingent met with Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Ahmed Mahloof, on Saturday.
MSA extended gratitude to its contributors which include the Ministry of Sports, Tropicsurf, Atoll Adventures, The Perfect Wave, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, and the Maldives Olympic Committee.