The International Surfing Association announced Sunday that the World Surfing Games will return to Japan next year and serve as the first direct qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Games, where the sport will make its Olympic debut.
The top eligible man and woman from Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania at the Sept. 7 to 15, 2019, event at Miyazaki Prefecture's Kisakihama Beach in southeastern Kyushu will automatically qualify for Tokyo 2020.
Surfers from the Americas will qualify based on their results at the 2019 Pan American Games.
It will mark the third year in a row for the ISA to host an international event in Japan.
"Japan has demonstrated time and again their exceptional organizational capacity by hosting major ISA events, so we're excited and proud to return to this amazing country for the third consecutive year with our flagship event," ISA President Fernando Aguerre said.
"With great weather, excellent waves and the warm spirit of the Japanese people, Miyazaki...will be an excellent destination to hold this event," he added.
Atsushi Sakai, president of the Nippon Surfing Association said he is eager to give the world a preview of the athletes who will qualify for Tokyo 2020 and praised Japan's performance at the WSG in September.
"Japan's gold-medal performance last year was a breakthrough moment that displayed the elite surfing talent that we possess to the world," Sakai said. "We're looking forward to defending our title for the first time at home."
At this year's WSG at Pacific Long Beach in Tahara, Aichi Prefecture, Team Japan posted its best-ever result and earned the host nation its first team gold medal in World Surfing Games history, thanks in part to a silver-medal performance from Kanoa Igarashi.
Igarashi, whose parents moved to California before he was born, switched his competitive nationality earlier this year in hopes of representing Japan in 2020.
Japan as host nation will get one automatic berth in each of the 20-surfer Olympic draws and will have a chance to earn another.