Surfing can become regular Olympic sport, Mick Fanning says

Mick Fanning Announces Retirement (1:00)

After 17 years at the elite level and three World Surf League titles, Australian surfer Mick Fanning has announced his retirement from professional surfing. (1:00)

Retiring star Mick Fanning believes surfing has a good chance of becoming a regular sport on the Olympic Games roster.

Surfing will be one of five new sports for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, although, as with skateboarding and sports climbing, there's no requirement for future cities to include it in their Games. Fanning believes surfing might be more than just a one-hit wonder at the Olympics, however, given Paris and Los Angeles are hosting the Games in 2024 and 2028 respectively.

The Californian coast is a mecca for board riders while Fanning says France is a huge surfing nation that excelled when hosting the 2017 World Surfing Games off the country's Atlantic coast.

And technology also means nations such as Germany are increasingly getting behind the sport despite obvious difficulties in accessing good waves.

"I think we're in a really unique place," Fanning said on Thursday after announcing on Wednesday that he would retire from the sport .

"I guess it's up to the athletes and surfing organisers to put on a really good show so the next few Olympics do pick it up."


Surfing champ recalls fighting off great white shark

Three-time world champion surfer Mick Fanning recounts the horror of being attacked by a great white shark during a competition on July 19, 2015.

Fanning is set to step away from the global surfing circuit in a few weeks at Bells Beach, but he hasn't ruled out reappearing from time to time.

The three-time world champion who also finished second or third in the title race six times may even pay back some younger athletes who, as upstart wildcards, played havoc with his championship hopes.

"I think it would be fun to come back as a wildcard and annoy the people that annoyed me when I was going for world titles," he said with a chuckle.

"If the event is right, I feel right and I get offered it, maybe I'll throw my hand up but I'm not looking too far forward, I'm just enjoying what life is right now."

Fanning and lifelong friend Joel Wilkinson are Australia's only male world champions since 2000, but he is optimistic about the future of Australian surfing.

"Obviously it goes up and down," he said.

"We've still got so many good guys - Julian Wilson, Owen Wright, Matt Wilkinson - and then there are juniors who are extremely strong.

"Then on the women's side, we're the best in the world."

Fanning will compete next at his hometown Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast in mid-March before he tries to win a record fifth Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach from March 28.