Pandemic turns popular surfing competition into broadcast-only film production

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The World Surf League will kick off its Championship Tour on Oahu and Maui. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials say the best seat to watch will be from your own home.

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After working with the state and counties, World Surf League (WSL) officials believe they have a COVID-friendly safety plan that can keep the athletes and the community virus free. This year, the competitions in Hawaii will resume as a broadcast-only film production.

In the past, these popular surfing competitions drew large crowds at the beach. But amid the pandemic, the Championship Tour will look very different starting next month. On Oahu, there will be a restricted filming zone on the days competitions are held.

“We’re not closing the beaches. There’s going to be access, ways for people to traverse the beach, you know, through the filming zone but yet not gather,” said WSL CEO Erik Logan. “And we typically, as you know, we would have a PA announcement calling what’s happening. We’re not going to have that, so we’re not doing anything to encourage people to come to the beach.”

At Honolua Bay on Maui, there will also be a restricted zone on each side of the event site.

WSL says it will have staff present to encourage beach goers to move through the area in order to avoid crowding during filming. Mayor Kirk Caldwell says if necessary, police will be there to remind folks about the rules before citing.

“Of course, people can go to the beach right now and you can as long as you’re six feet apart and responsible, we will not enforce against you because that is allowed,” said the Mayor. “I have faith that we can do this correctly.”

The pro-surfers and staff will go through a rigorous coronavirus testing schedule and Logan says those not from here will be staying at a variety of different houses.

Housing will be separated based on the following tests taken:

  • PCR Test four days prior to the first day of the production window 
  • PCR Test Day 2 of production window
  • PCR Test Day 7 of production window

Athletes and staff will also receive a rapid test on each day that the competition runs prior to their first heat.

“It will be different through a pandemic, but there’s still great value for us bringing the world’s best surfers there and trying to help restart some of these economies,” said Logan.

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