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[JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] Surfer Connor O'Leary Aims to Represent Japan at the Paris Olympics

With his nationality change authorized by the IOC, Australian-born surfer Connor O'Leary can channel his focus on competition, including the World Surf League.

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Connor O'Leary
Connor O'Leary competes in the World Surf League's Quiksilver Pro France event on October 20, 2021, in Hossegor, France. (Damien Poullenot/World Surf League)

Read the full story on SportsLook - [JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] Surfer Connor O'Leary Aims to Represent Japan at the Paris Olympics

The International Olympic Committee has approved a nationality change for surfer Connor O'Leary from Australian to Japanese, Jiji Press reported on Thursday, November 29.

This process was in the works for months.

Already, the global surfing community was aware of O'Leary's desire to represent the land of his mother Akemi Karasawa's birth in future competitions.

In August 2023, the World Surf League announced that O'Leary would compete as a Japanese participant on the 2024 WSL Championship Tour.

As part of the WSL's announcement, O'Leary explained his desire for the change.

"After much reflection and consideration, I am choosing Japan," O'Leary stated in an Instagram post. "I'm choosing to represent my family's heritage and my cultural background."

He will, however, continue to wear Japanese and Australian flags on his surf clothing, according to the WSL report.

O'Leary, 30, was the World Surf League Rookie of the Year in 2017.

His mother was a professional surfing champion in Japan.

In June 2023, the Nippon Surfing Association revealed that O'Leary had applied to change his nationality to Japanese. At the time of Japan's surfing governing body's announcement, O'Leary was the world's 12th-ranked male surfer.

Connor O'Leary
Pro surfer Connor O'Leary is seen in an October 2021 file photo. (World Surf League)

Connor O'Leary Targets a Spot on Japan's 2024 Olympic Team

With the nationality switch, O'Leary will aim to earn a spot on Team Japan for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The surfing competition will take place in Tahiti, half a world away.

"To be able to qualify for Australia would be great as well, but with where I am at in my career, [representing Japan is] such a great way to expand my horizon," O'Leary, who grew up near Sydney, was quoted as saying by Australian broadcaster SBS Japanese in an August 2023 feature.

O'Leary also wants to be a role model for the youth and aspiring surfers.

"There are many young talents coming up in Japan, and I hope to be that surfer they look up to, as there is really just Kanoa (Igarashi, current world No. 14) at the moment," O'Leary told SBS Japanese.

Continue reading the full story, which includes news items on baseball, soccer, basketball and more, on SportsLook.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven

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