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Donna Weeks

Prof Donna Weeks
Professor, Musashino University, Tokyo

Donna Weeks commenced her present position in Tokyo in April 2016 following several years teaching and researching politics and international relations at the University of the Sunshine Coast and, prior to that, the University of Queensland. Her studies commenced at Miami State High on the Gold Coast and her career has taken her to Brisbane, Tokyo, Canberra and back to Tokyo. She is working with colleagues on a history of surfing in Japan in the lead up to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Surfing is part of her DNA.

Presentation Title: Let’s Go Surfing: Surfing at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020
Presentation Day: Tuesday 14th March
Presentation Time: 1.20 - 1.40pm

Abstract
The announcement in August 2016 that surfing (along with its close cousin skateboarding) is to be part of the 2020 Olympics probably came as a bit of a surprise to many. Japan? Surfing? Really? Well, yes, really. The timing of the decision might be due partly to the lobbying timetable as various sports seek to gain Olympic recognition, decisions which can take several years. But there is quite a strong surf culture in Japan that, in its modern form, dates to the 1960s, and according to some historians, might date back even further when children played in the water on wooden planks. This presentation is aimed at introducing the early stages of a new study on the history of surfing in Japan particularly with a view to whether or not Olympic participation will increase the profile of the sport in the host country. The paper presents some background to surfing in Japan, who surfs and what and where do they surf? Surfboards are popular, bodyboards even more so. There was even a dedicated indoor surfing centre for a few years in the 1990s. The country is dotted with surf shops which promise access to a particular sub-culture with a strong sense of identity. The study will bring to light Japanese surf culture through a detailed analysis of original Japanese-language materials, interviews with participants and practitioners, shop owners and others. The presentation will include some location shots of the site chosen for Olympic competition. The completion of the project is due to coincide with start of the Tokyo Olympics.