(Reuters) – Landlocked Mongolia has become the latest country to join the International Surfing Association, taking the world body’s total membership to 106 nations on five continents.
Surfing, which traditionally needs only a beach and some waves, can now be enjoyed inland and even indoors thanks to wave machines and is due to make its Olympic debut in Tokyo next year.
The sport is also on the programme for the 2020 Asian Beach Games, in Sanya, China.
“The growth of surfing in non-traditional surfing nations is testimony to how surfing’s Olympic inclusion has expanded the sport to new corners of the globe,” said ISA president Fernando Aguerre in a statement.
“Surfers that thought the Games were far out of reach, now have a tangible dream that they can pursue.”
The ISA said the Mongolian federation, recognised by the country’s National Olympic Committee, could now organise indoor surfing competitions using wave pool technology and set up a network of surfing clubs.
It will also develop disciplines that can be practised on flat water, such as StandUp Paddle.
Mongolia Surfing Federation (MSF) President Tamir Amarbayasgalan said in the ISA statement that membership was “a crucial step towards promoting and popularizing the sport of Surfing in Mongolia.
“This creates an opportunity for us to field a national team to compete at the ISA’s international competitions. The MSF has created a platform that will allow surfers to get information and become a part of the worldwide surfing community.”
Oman, which held its first surf contest in August last year, also joined the ISA as a member.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)