Surfing's upcoming debut in the Olympic Games has influenced another athlete to change allegiance on the World Surf League Championship Tour.
Current women's world No.4 Tatiana Weston-Webb announced this week she would no longer be flying the flag for Hawaii and would be representing Brazil going forward.
"This is a major decision for me and one that I'm really excited about," Weston-Webb said in a statement.
"Brazil has always been an important part of who I am and, recently, I was approached by the Brazilian Olympic Committee with an opportunity to represent the country in a major way.
"It's always been a dream of mine to compete in the Olympics and when surfing was announced as an official Olympic sport, I knew that my dream had a chance of becoming a reality."
Weston-Webb, 21, was born in Brazil to a Brazilian mother and British father, but grew up on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
On the World Surf League Championship Tour (CT) and Qualifying Series, Hawaiian athletes compete under the Hawaiian flag. However, for the Olympic Games, Hawaii falls inside the USA.
And for Olympic qualification, the top women's surfers from the USA and Australia face a big challenge if they want to compete in Tokyo in 2020.
Both the men's and women's fields will consist of 20 athletes in the Games, with 19 qualification places up for grabs, and the final spot going to an athlete from the host nation.
However, countries can only send a maximum of four athletes, two men and two women, to the event. On this year's CT, six athletes hail from Australia, while another seven would be eligible to represent the USA.
In the women's Olympics line-up, the eight top-ranked surfers at the end of the 2019 CT earn a spot – with the next highest finisher gaining a spot should three surfers from one country qualify. A further six athletes will qualify through the 2020 International Surfing Association (ISA) world games, while the highest-placed athlete from each continent at the 2019 ISA world games, aside from the Americas, will obtain one of five qualification spots. For the Americas, the spot is decided by results from the 2019 Pan American Games.
In choosing to represent Brazil, Weston-Webb will have an easier bid for Olympic qualification, as she becomes just the second Brazillian on the women's tour alongside Silvana Lima.
"I am beyond proud to represent such an amazing country with so much passion and dedication for our sport. While this change gives me the opportunity to represent Brazil in 2020, all spots have to be earned and I'll be trying my best to qualify as one of the few surfers able to represent their countries in the Olympics."
Weston-Webb was the second athlete to commit to representing another country with Olympic qualification in mind, after Kanoa Igarashi chose to represent Japan instead of the USA at the start of the 2018 CT season.
Born in America to Japanese parents, the dual citizen will likely take Japan's qualification spot in the men's field, as the countries current top-ranked surfer.
The men's Olympic qualification criteria is a touch different to the women's, with the top 10 at the end of the 2019 CT season securing qualification for the Olympics and just four through the 2020 ISA world games. The continental representation criteria remains the same as the women's field.
Possible Olympic representatives by country from current Championship Tour surfers:
Women (maximum of two Olympic spots per country)
Australia: Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright, Sally Fitzgibbons, Bronte Macauley, Keely Andrew, Nikki van Dijk
USA: Courtney Conlogue, Sage Erickson, Carissa Moore, Lakey Peterson, Caroline Marks, Malia Manuel, Coco Ho
Brazil: Tatiana Weston-Webb, Silvana Lima
France: Johanne Defay
New Zealand: Paige Hareb
Men (maximum of two Olympic spots per country)
Australia: Julian Wilson, Owen Wright, Adrian Buchan, Wade Carmichael, Mikey Wright, Matt Wilkinson, Joel Parkinson, Connor O'Leary
Brazil: Italo Ferreira, Gabriel Medina, Filepe Toldeo, Adriano de Souza, Michael Rodrigues, Tomas Hermes, Jesse Mendes, Yago Dora, Ian Gouveia, Caio Ibelli, Willian Cardoso
USA: Griffin Colapinto, Conner Coffin, Patrick Gudauskas, John John Florence, Ezekiel Lau, Sebastian Zietz, Keanu Asing, Kelly Slater
French Polynesia: Michel Bourez
Portugal: Frederico Morais
France: Jeremy Flores, Joan Duru
South Africa: Jordy Smith, Michael February
Japan: Kanoa Igarashi
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