Record 63 Nations Come Together in Celebration of Peace for the Opening Ceremony of the 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games

May 30th, 2023

Surfings second Olympic cycle continues with record participation of 294 surfers

Tokyo 2020 Olympic medalists Carissa Moore (USA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) represent their nations on stage

Surf City El Salvador – May 30, 2023

ISA President Fernando Aguerre officially declared competition open for the 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games (WSG) today, inaugurating an historic and record-breaking edition of the event.

The first qualifier in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games cycle that will directly qualify surfers by name saw flags of an incredible 63 nations raised high throughout the course of a beautiful Opening Ceremony, for which a massive 294 competitors were present.

Opening Ceremony. Photo: Sean Evans

Three Olympic medalists participated in the iconic ISA “Sands of the World Ceremony”, where sand from their beaches is poured into one container as a symbol of the peaceful gathering of nations of the world through surfing. Tokyo 2020 gold medalist Carissa Moore appeared as sand pourer for the United States, as did bronze medalist Amuro Tsuzuki for Japan. Silver medalist Kanoa Igarashi joined Tsuzuki as their team’s flagbearer.

Moore also represented each of the surfers gathered in swearing an oath of good sportsmanship alongside ISA Head Judge Richard Pierce.

Four nations poured their sand and raised their flags at the WSG for the very first time; Czech Republic, India, Latvia and Mauritius each have teams present with fresh Olympic dreams.

Dignitaries present included ISA President Fernando Aguerre, El Salvador Tourism Minister Morena Valdez, and Vice President of the El Salvador National Olympic Committee, Salvador Salguero.

ISA President Fernando Aguerre with Team El Salvador. Photo: Sean Evans

After sharing how surfing had personally changed her life, El Salvador Tourism Minister, Morena Valdez stated:

“We’ve always had these waves in El Salvador, but we didn’t have the vision that President Nayib Bukele showed us, a country that grows and opens itself up into the world.

“It is thanks to that idea, to an entire government team, and to Salvadorans throughout the country who continue to believe in us that we are up on this stage today celebrating a new World Surfing Games that is historical for all of us, with 63 delegations present and the best athletes from around the world vying for a chance at the Olympic dream in Paris 2024. A dream that ISA President Fernando Aguerre made possible for us all.

“Fernando, our infinite thanks for being here with us, paddling towards that wave that many thought impossible.”

Furthering her sentiments, Minister Valdez introduced a violinist on stage to present a special musical tribute to ISA President Fernando Aguerre with a beautiful version of the ISA’s anthem “A Better World Through Surfing.”

The performance moved President Aguerre, who was emotional as he welcomed each of the teams and thanked El Salvador President Nayib Bukele, Tourism Minister Morena Valdez and the people of El Salvador.

“This world needs more love, more union, less hate, less wars and less violence. These next ten days in El Salvador are an example and proof that a better world is not just desirable, but it’s possible. It also shows us that here, all of us, the United Nations of surfing, we’re showing the world what it is to live in peace without discrimination for any reason.

“Enjoy these days of waves and friendships. A few of you will go home with medals, but all of you are champions because you are all here in the second Olympic cycle in history.

“The dream of Olympic surfing was just a dream decades ago, but today it’s our reality. For me it was an impossible dream. Many times. But I, like you guys, continued to paddle, and that’s how it became a reality.”

Following the ceremony was a special premiere of the documentary “The Impossible Wave”, which tells the story of Aguerre’s long paddle of securing surfing’s place in the Olympic Games.

Competition will begin tomorrow at 8:00am CST with Men’s Main Round 1 at La Bocana and Women’s Main Round 1 at Sunzal.

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