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.

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"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.

Tatiana Weston-Webb is in her fifth year on the World Surf League Championship Tour. Photo / Getty Images
Tatiana Weston-Webb is in her fifth year on the World Surf League Championship Tour. Photo / Getty Images

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.

Hoje estou animada em anunciar que, seguindo em frente, estarei representando o Brasil tanto no WSL Championship Tour quanto na preparação para os Jogos Olímpicos de 2020 em Tóquio. Esta é uma decisão importante para mim e sobre a qual estou muito empolgada. A maioria das pessoas não sabem que meu pai é da Inglaterra e minha mãe é do Brasil. Me sinto verdadeiramente abençoada por ter sido criada na linda ilha do Kauai - tanto a comunidade quanto as ondas tiveram um papel importante na formação de quem eu sou como surfista e como pessoa. Eu sou muito grato por isso, mas como todos vocês sabem. O Brasil é o país a onde nasci e sempre fez parte de quem eu sou e, recentemente, fui abordada pela Confederação Brasileira de Surf e pelo Comitê Olímpico Brasileiro, com a oportunidade de representar o Brasil. Sempre foi um sonho meu competir nas Olimpíadas e quando o surfe foi anunciado como um esporte olímpico oficial, eu sabia que meu sonho tinha uma chance de se tornar realidade. O Brasil possui grande parte do meu coração. Eu tenho família, amigos e uma quantidade incrível de apoio lá. É um lugar que sempre me fez sentir em casa. Estou muito orgulhosa de representar um país tão incrível com tanta paixão e dedicação pelo nosso esporte. Embora essa mudança me dê a oportunidade de representar o Brasil em 2020, todas as vagas têm que ser conquistadas e eu vou tentar o meu melhor para me qualificar como um dos poucos surfistas capazes de representar seus países nas Olimpíadas. Eu me considero muito feliz por ter o apoio dos fãs do Havaí, do Brasil e do mundo. Obrigada a todos por entender, respeitar e apoiar minha decisão. So today I’m excited to announce that, moving forward, I will be representing Brasil on both the WSL Championship Tour as well as in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. This is a major decision for me and one that I’m really excited about. Most folks aren’t aware that my Dad is originally from England and my Mom is originally from Brasil. Brasil is where I was born, but I feel truly blessed to have been raised on beautiful Kauai - both the community and (please read the rest below)

A post shared by Tatiana Weston-Webb (@tatiwest) on

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.

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"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."

Kanoa Igarashi began representing Japan rather than the USA at the start of 2018. Photo / Getty Images
Kanoa Igarashi began representing Japan rather than the USA at the start of 2018. Photo / Getty Images

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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