Sunbaking will make its Olympic debut at Brisbane 2032 and residents of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs are expected to scoop the medals. Sunbaking is the first new sport to be added to the program after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) declared it an official sport.
“We are enormously excited to add this popular Australian tradition to the program for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games,” began a statement from the IOC. “The decision to classify sunbaking as a sport was made after reviewing images of thousands of people sunbaking without masks at Bondi, Coogee and Bronte during Sydney’s recent COVID-19 lockdown.”
Residents throughout Greater Sydney were required to wear a face mask every time they left the house during the extended lockdown, except when exercising or for religious reasons,
“…confirming that Australians are sun worshippers, which provides further reason to include the sport.”
The IOC sought advice from former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard, as well as Waverley and Randwick councils, all of whom allowed people to sunbake without masks, congregate in groups and flaunt the rules that applied to other areas of Greater Sydney. This helped greatly to sway the IOC.
Eastern Suburbs residents are already favoured to sweep the medals, even though the games are 11 years away.
“The eastern suburbs region is blessed with wonderful beaches which are the perfect training ground for elite international sunbakers,” explained Itan Allova, the newly-appointed high-performance director at Sunbaking Australia, which will be based at Bondi Beach.
“Local sunbakers also enjoy the support of regional authorities who allow them to train every time the mercury rises, even when residents of other parts of Greater Sydney are locked out of these specialised training facilities.”
The announcement is expected to attract even more people to local beaches in the coming months as Sydneysiders seize the opportunity to represent their nation at a home Olympics. Sunbaking is open to all ages, shapes and sizes, including children, meaning some sunbakers in Brisbane could be even younger than the skateboarders.
Sunbaking will take place alongside Surfing and Beach Volleyball, creating the historic opportunity for an athlete to win gold medals in separate sports at exactly the same time.
Competitors will be judged according to criteria such as consistency of tan, depth of tan and avoidance of tan lines. Sunbakers exhibiting signs of sunburn, or the British Tan, will be eliminated, and use of performance enhancing substances such as tanning oils is prohibited.
Critics argue the inclusion of Sunbaking discriminates against people from landlocked nations, and even residents of western Sydney or the Blue Mountains who live miles from the beach, to which the IOC replied:
“Well, we included Surfing.”
Image: Apostolos Vamvouras
First published in The Beast magazine, November 2021