El Salvador President Nayib Bukele and ISA President Fernando Aguerre Officially Open Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games

May 29th, 2021

Nayib Bukele: “Surfing is one of the pillars of [El Salvador’s] future” 

Fernando Aguerre: “A good surfer never stops paddling”

Opening Ceremony inaugurates historic edition of ISA World Surfing Games

Surfers take to the water Sunday in search of Olympic qualification

Follow live on isasurf.org 

ATTENTION MEDIA: For photo and video content, visit the ISA media center.
For event news, schedule, results, and updates, visit the official event page.

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele and ISA President Fernando Aguerre today inaugurated the Opening Ceremony of the 2021 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games to welcome the 51 international delegations to the event.

Bukele and Aguerre spoke at the event’s Opening Ceremony, marking the official start to Surfing’s final Olympic qualifier for the sport’s debut in Tokyo 2020.

Team El Salvador enters to pour sand from the event venue La Bocana in the Sands of the World Ceremony. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

“A couple years ago we decided that El Salvador had to build a new future,” said Bukele. “To change all the things that we suffered in the past we had to build a new destiny. As strange as it sounds, we decided that surfing would be part of that destiny. Surfing is one of the pillars of our future.

“This task of making El Salvador a world-class surf destination we cannot do by ourselves. We need the help of the athletes to get the word out, to post pictures on your Instagram, to tell the story of what you found here and what you think about it. We need you tell the story of how the people treated you, how you felt, the weather, the sun, the nonstop waves, the warm water, and all the vibes.

“I ask you to please be our ambassadors and spread the good word about our country. When you all become old, far from now, you will look into the past and remember that you started it all.”


From left to right: President of INDES Yamil Bukele, Minister of Tourism Morena Valdez, ISA President Fernando Aguerre, and President of El Salvador Nayib Bukele. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

The Opening Ceremony was conducted under the guidance of the health and safety protocol established by the El Salvador government, the Local Organizing Committee, and the ISA. Each team was permitted to select only two athletes to attend to allow for safe social distancing measures.

There was no traditional parade of nations, but each pair of athletes participated in the ISA’s signature Sands of the World Ceremony. While one athlete carried their country flag, the other poured sand into a container where each nation’s sand accumulated, symbolizing the peaceful gathering of the participating nations through surfing.

President Bukele was joined on stage by ISA President Fernando Aguerre, President of INDES Yamil Bukele, and Tourism Minister Morena Valdez.

The power of surfing to bring people together represented by the mixing of sands from all over the planet. Photo: ISA / Pablo Franco

ISA President Fernando Aguerre addressed the delegations:

“Thank you to El Salvador and President Nayib Bukele for inviting us to El Salvador in these difficult times. Thank you to all the teams. Today we are proving the resilience and strength of the human race — the resilience of life and surfing.

“With the power of love, for life and hope, mankind needs us. A good surfer never stops paddling, and here we are making history on our road to Tokyo.

“A year and a half ago we thought we were going to have a great 2020, come to El Salvador and have this amazing World Surfing Games and the Olympic experience for the first time with surfing. We had to wait another year, but here we are, set to qualify 12 more Olympians. The stage is set for history to be made.”

Team Colombia proudly participates in the Sands of the World Ceremony. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

The surfing competition is set to commence on Sunday across both podiums of La Bocana and El Sunzal.

The first 24 heats of Men’s Main Event Round 1 will run at La Bocana, while the women’s first 24 heats will run at El Sunzal.

The start of competition marks the beginning of the pursuit of the coveted Olympic qualification slots. The highest ranking eligible 5 men and 7 women will book their slots in Surfing’s Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.

The heats will be available live on www.isasurf.org and www.olympic.org. Viewers in Latin American will be able to consume content on ESPN and viewers in Brazil can watch on the Olympic Channel of Brazil.

During the Ceremony, President Nayib Bukele took a moment to remember the life of Katherine Diaz, a member of the El Salvador National Surfing Team who was struck by lightning and passed away while surfing her home break of La Bocana just two months ago.

“I’d like to remember Katherine Diaz, a great Salvadorean surfer,” said Bukele. “She was just 22 with her whole life ahead of her, but with a stroke of destiny she died doing what she loved most. I can imagine what that meant to her friends and family. I want to dedicate this worldwide tournament to her. You will now ride her waves, feel the sun she felt, walk in the sand she walked, so please enjoy everything, ride our waves, and have a blast.”

The 2021 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games runs from May 29 – June 6. Follow the event with live broadcasts, news, videos, photos, schedules, results, and more on www.isasurf.org.

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