The world’s best surfers are set to compete at Rottnest Island in May after WA won the rights to a special one-off World Surf League event.
The competition will be held at Strickland Bay from May 16 to 26, but will be closed to spectators, Mark McGowan announced on Facebook.
“It’ll mean national and international exposure for our unique island destination, and continue to build our case as a world-class surfing State,” the Premier said.
The cost to WA taxpayers of hosting the competition has yet to be disclosed.
It comes after Queensland lost the Corona Open Gold Coast tournament at Snapper Rocks, which has launched the World Surf League tour since 2002.
The event was dumped this week after a wrangle over COVID-19 quarantine arrangements between the WSL and the Queensland Government.
That event has been poached by NSW, but Queensland’s Courier Mail reported Rottnest would also host a new championship contest. It means WA will host two WSL events, with the Margaret River Pro taking place from April 16 to 26.
“This year, the Aussie CT leg is looking very different to what we’re used to due to COVID-19, with the addition of three new stops,” WSL Australian chief Andrew Stark told the Courier Mail.
“Although it’s very disappointing to miss locations like Bells Beach and Snapper Rocks this year, we are stoked to add Newcastle, North Narrabeen and Rottnest Island to the schedule.
“We would like to genuinely thank all of our partners for their patience, understanding and support during this extremely difficult time.
“The WSL can’t wait to get the tour back underway and run epic and safe events for our athletes, fans and partners in Australia.”
Queensland Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe claimed his government refused to bow to the WSL’s demands to foot the quarantine bill for the surf stars and their entourages, and accused the league of ‘chasing short-term dollars at the expense of surfing tradition’.
But Mr Stark said NSW was the only State which would agree to receive a charter plane from Los Angeles carrying international surfers and officials, and was not paying their quarantine costs.
He said Queensland could not guarantee a COVID-19 ‘bubble’ which the WSL had requested in case of another border shutdown.
“We requested a pre-approved bubble to operate our events and we requested Queensland Police resource support for this bubble, and both items were knocked back by the government,” he said.