China Grabs 2 of 3 Golds at Tokyo 2020 Test Event

By Ken Marantz

CHIBA, Japan (Oct.4) --- A pair of Chinese world medalists came away with two of the three golds on the second day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics test event as organizers continued to work out the operational kinks at the Makuhari Messe venue.

WANG Xiaoqian (CHN) held on for a 2-1 victory over teenager Naruha MATSUYUKI (JPN) to take the 68kg title, while China was destined to win the 76kg gold, which went to Paliha PALIHA (CHN) when compatriot ZHOU Qian (CHN) defaulted the final. 

Rui SAKANO (JPN) took the other gold at stake on the second day of the three-day tournament by edging Atena KODAMA (JPN) 2-1 at 62kg, avenging a loss to her compatriot at last year’s All-Japan Championships.

The women’s tournament in the six Olympic weight classes is part of the “Ready Steady Tokyo” series of test events for all sports on the Tokyo 2020. Wrestling is one of four sports that will be held at Makuhari Messe, an international convention center located on the Tokyo Bay coast in neighboring Chiba city.

The event, which had drawn a limited number of entries coming so close to the World Championships in Kazakhstan, was open to the media for the first and only time on Friday. No spectators, other than invited guests, have been allowed, and the only sounds outside of the mat echoing in the cavernous hall are shouts from coaches and teammates.

In line with the first day of finals, medal ceremonies were held for the three weight classes on one of the three mats. The medalists stepped up to a single-level medal stand placed on a red carpet and bearing the “Ready Steady Tokyo” logo. Volunteers brought out the medals on cafeteria trays, and a wrestling dignitary placed them around the winners’ necks. No national anthems were played. 

Rui SAKANO (JPN) edged Atena KODAMA (JPN), 2-1, in the 62kg finals. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

Sakano, a 2017 world U23 champion, became the first gold recipient after her victory over 2018 world junior champion Kodama, in which she scored both of her points with Kodama on the activity clock. Kodama earned a point for fleeing in the final seconds.

“It’s possible I’ll face her again in a national competition this year,” said Sakano, who defeated world 59kg bronze medalist PEI Xingru (CHN) in the semifinals on Thursday. “I’m just trying to put out on the mat what I work on practice.”

With world bronze medalist Yukako KAWAI (JPN) having clinched a spot at Tokyo 2020 and almost surely planning to skip the Emperor’s Cup All-Japan Championships in December, Sakano knows the door is open to reach her most immediate goal.

“I still haven’t become the national champion at 62kg,” said Sakano, who also won a gold at the Rio 2016 test event. “What I most regret [in the final] is that I wasn’t aggressive. I’ll work on fixing that heading toward the Bill Farrell [Memorial International] in New York and the Emperor’s Cup in December, and hopefully that will bring me a national title.” 

The bronze medals went to LUO Xiaojuan (CHN), who received a victory by default over Pei, and European U23 champion Ilona PROKOPEVNIUK (UKR), who stormed to a 10-0 technical fall over Anna SHCHERBAKOVA (RUS).

Wang, a bronze medalist in Nur-Sultan at 65kg, had eased into the 68kg final with victories by technical fall and fall, but was hampered by the onset of stomach cramps against world junior champion Matsuyuki and had to make a first-period takedown stand up for a 2-1 win.

“I was thinking to attack more and get more points,” Wang said. “But because of [my condition] I couldn’t really do that.”

Wang said she felt fine about competing so soon after the World Championships. 

“There’s no problem because it was so close, because I am ready for all competitions,” she said. 

Taking home the bronzes were Alina RUDNYTSKA (UKR), who rode a 4-point first-period cradle to a 4-3 win over Alexandra GLAUDE (USA), and Rin MIYAJI (JPN), who rallied to defeat Alena STARODUBTSEVA (RUS), 9-6

While there was no match to decide the gold at 76kg, one bronze-medal playoff was an intriguing match-up of generations.

Justina DI STASIO (CAN), a 2018 world champion, defeated Yasuha MATSUYUKI (JPN) in one of the 76kg bronze-medal matches. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

Justina DI STASIO (CAN), the 2018 world champion at 72kg, had her hands full with teenager and world junior bronze medalist Yasuha MATSUYUKI (JPN) before coming away with a 3-0 win.

Di Stasio gained a first-period point with Matsuyuki---Naruha’s twin sister---on the activity clock, then scored a single-leg takedown in the second.

“I didn’t know she was so young and then the match starts and you hear, ‘a 26-year-old versus a 19-year-old’ and I was like, ‘Man, I hope I do good against the 19-year-old,’” Di Stasio said. “She’s long, super long, so it was like trying to stay patient and not take bad, bad shots--which I did once--but I came out of it.”

Di Stasio, who gave up a last-second takedown to lose 2-2 to Zhou in the semifinals, had missed out on a place at the World Championships to Rio 2016 Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN). 

With two months to prepare to challenge Wiebe for the Tokyo 2020 spot at the Canadian trials in December, she sees making the trip to compete at the Olympic venue as invaluable. 

“It just makes it so real,” Di Stasio said. “You come here and you see it all and you’re competing in the place [for the Olympics]. It was pretty real before I came here, but to be here and know what it’s like. You can very much visualize what you’re training for.

“It is a long trip, and it’s a quick trip. But it was important. I didn’t go the World Championships….Watching all that stuff was a lot of emotions, too. Just trying to focus through stuff, which is something I don’t get at practice all the time. The tournament environment is totally different so it was completely worth coming out here.”

Winning the other 76kg bronze was Romana VOVCHAK (UKR), who defeated Mizuki NAGASHIMA (JPN) by fall in 3:19.

In the morning session, the qualification rounds (actually mainly quarterfinals as all weight classes have only eight or nine entries) were held for the remaining three divisions, which were more notable for who did not wrestle than who did. 

Two world medalists in Olympic weight classes in Nur-Sultan, RONG Ningning (CHN) and PANG Qianyu (CHN), as well former Olympic medalist SUN Yanan (CHN), all were entered in the tournament, but without the intention of actually taking part. As such, their opponents were awarded victories by default. 

“They were very tired and had some injuries,” said a team spokesperson. “We didn’t suppose they would participate.”  

Venue manager Yasukazu Fujimori was sympathetic of the Chinese wrestlers.

“This is a test event, it’s not a championship, it’s not a ranking event,” Fujimori said. “The Chinese athletes who were at the World Championships in Kazakhstan have fatigue, and this tournament doesn’t really mean anything, so I understand their feelings about canceling.” 

Still, there were enough good matches to go around, resulting in two Japan-China finals and one all-Japan clash to be held on the final day Saturday.

LEI Chun (CHN) secured her spot in the 50kg finals with a pair of technical superiority wins. She'll wrestle Miu SHIMIZU (JPN) in the gold-medal bout. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

At 50kg, 2018 Asian champion LEI Chun (CHN) advanced to the gold-medal match with a pair of technical falls, beating Daria LEKSINA (RUS) 13-2 and Remina YOSHIMOTO (JPN) 14-4, the latter by scoring a takedown and six consecutive ankle-lock rolls. 

Lei will face Miu SHIMIZU (JPN), who won by fall over world junior bronze medalist Mariia VYNNYK (UKR) and 12-2 technical fall over Chihiro SAWADA (JPN). Sawada had received the default from Sun.

The 53kg final will pit LUO Lannuan (CHN) against Umi IMAI (JPN). Luo, a 2018 Asian bronze medalist, won by default over Pang, then ousted 2018 world U23 and junior champion Saki IGARASHI (JPN) 7-1. Imai, a 2018 world junior champion, topped Katherine SHAI (USA) 10-2 before edging Ibuki TAMURA (JPN) 5-4.

Compatriots Sena NAGAMOTO (JPN) and Yumeka TANABE (JPN) will duel for the 57kg title. Nagamoto, recipient of the default from Rong, knocked off Asian 59kg bronze medalist ZHANG Qi (CHN) 2-0 in the semifinals. Tanabe chalked up victories over Khadizhat MURTUZALIEVA (RUS) and 2018 world junior champion Hanako SAWA (JPN). 

Day 2 results

Women’s Wrestling
50kg (8 entries)
Semifinal – LEI Chun (CHN) df. Remina YOSHIMOTO (JPN) by TF, 14-4, 4:16
Semifinal – Miu SHIMIZU (JPN) df. Chihiro SAWADA (JPN) by TF, 12-2, 5:24 

53kg (9 entries)
Semifinal – LUO Lannuan (CHN) df. Saki IGARASHI (JPN), 7-1
Semifinal – Umi IMAI (JPN) df. Ibuki TAMURA (JPN), 5-4 

57kg (8 entries)
Semifinal – Sena NAGAMOTO (JPN) df. ZHANG Qi (China), 2-0
Semifinal – Yumeka TANABE (JPN) df. Hanako SAWA (JPN) by TF, 14-4, 5:36 

62kg (8 entries)
Gold – Yui SAKANO (JPN) df. Atena KODAMA (JPN), 2-1
Bronze – LUO Xiaojuan (CHN) df. PEI Xingru (CHN) by Def.
Bronze – Ilona PROKOPEVNIUK (UKR) df. Anna SHCHERBAKOVA (RUS) by TF, 10-0, 4:04 

68kg (8 entries)
Gold – WANG Xiaoqian (CHN) df. Naruha MATSUYUKI (JPN), 2-1 
Bronze – Alina RUDNYTSKA (UKR) df. Alexandra GLAUDE (USA), 4-3
Bronze –Rin MIYAJI (JPN) df. Alena STARODUBTSEVA (RUS), 9-6

76kg (9 entries)
Gold – Paliha PALIHA (CHN) df. ZHOU Qian (CHN) by Def.
Bronze – Romana VOVCHAK (UKR) df. Mizuki NAGASHIMA (JPN) by Fall, 3:19 (3-0)
Bronze – Justina DI STASIO (CAN) df. Yasuha MATSUYUKI (JPN), 3-0


Safe and Secure Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 - Version 2 of Tokyo 2020 Playbooks Released

By International Olympic Committee

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (April 28) --- The International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 (Tokyo 2020) have today launched the second editions of the Tokyo 2020 Playbooks, with the version for Athletes and Team Officials.

Building on February’s publication, the new Playbooks provide more specific details to participants about the countermeasures that will help ensure safe and successful Games for all those taking part and the residents of Tokyo and Japan. Some of the key measures in the Playbooks can be found in the five-party joint statement.

The countermeasures detailed in the Playbooks are based on science, benefiting from learnings gathered during the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to implementing the most effective tools being used throughout society, such as screening testing, mask wearing, personal hygiene and physical distancing, they also draw upon the experience of hundreds of sports events that have taken place safely across the world over the past year, with minimal risk to participants and the local population.

The Playbooks have been developed through the ongoing work of the All-Partners Task Force, which includes the Government of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the IOC, IPC, World Health Organization and independent experts and organisations from across the world.

Speaking about the Playbooks, IOC President Thomas Bach said: “Tokyo and Japan have accepted the unprecedented challenge of organising the first postponed Olympic and Paralympic Games in history. We thank them for their great work in this respect and, as partners, we understand the great responsibility that everyone attending the Games must accept so that all participants and the Japanese population remain safe. This is why we have created the Playbooks, based on science and the best medical and event expertise available to us.”

He continued: “Providing more details about the operations that stakeholders can expect at Games time, we have also remained flexible to the evolving global situation, combining numerous countermeasures to create the safest possible environment. Increased testing for athletes and stakeholders, before and during the Games, is one important example. We’re also encouraged by the growing number of vaccinations being administered throughout the world. These tools will only work, however, if everyone shows solidarity and follows the guidelines. This is why those violating the rules can expect to be strictly dealt with in Tokyo. This is our commitment to the people of Tokyo and Japan, who are so kindly welcoming us to their city and country this summer.”

IPC President Andrew Parsons said: “With the support of the world’s leading experts in health and sport event delivery, the updated Playbooks offer greater information for everyone attending the Tokyo 2020 Games, outlining the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder.

“As with the first editions, special considerations for persons with disabilities are included in all Playbooks, and I believe the stringent measures outlined will offer reassurance and comfort to all Games stakeholders, as well as the people of Japan. We are taking every possible measure to deliver safe Games.”

Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko said: “The COVID-19 countermeasures included in the first edition of the Playbooks [published February 2021] have been reviewed and significantly updated in order to address the evolving situation of the pandemic. Rules to be observed by all Games participants during their stay in Japan have been expanded and clarified to include further details to ensure safe and secure Games.

“It is important that all stakeholders fully understand these rules, and that each and every one arrives in Japan with the understanding that their cooperation is critical to the success of the Games. We will hold online briefings for each of our stakeholder groups to ensure clear and comprehensive communication on these points.”

One of the key updates in this version of the Playbooks details daily testing, in principle, for athletes and those in regular contact with them, which will be a crucial part of minimising transmission and the risk of an uncontrolled outbreak. Testing will be used for general screening and for those identified as a close contact of a positive case; as well as for diagnosis for those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

The latest Playbooks also outline the role of COVID-19 Liaison Officers (CLOs), to be appointed by each stakeholder, who will work very closely with Tokyo 2020 and Japanese health authorities. They will receive extensive training to enable them to play a key role throughout the Games, providing an essential support network for their delegation. The CLOs will ensure all members of their organisation are fully informed of the contents of their relevant Playbooks. In addition, they will be monitoring the implementation of all COVID-19 countermeasures, ensuring participants follow their detailed activity plans and managing any positive cases that are detected.

The publication of version two of the Playbooks builds upon the optimisation and simplification of operational plans, reduced delegations from all Olympic and Paralympic Movement stakeholders, and the decision and announcement in March by the Japanese side, and respected and accepted by the IOC and IPC, to not allow spectators from overseas to enter Japan.

In acknowledging the evolving COVID-19 situation around the world, the IOC, IPC and Tokyo 2020 reinforced their commitment to regularly update the Playbooks. They will continue to receive regular input from the All-Partners Task Force, taking into account the latest advances in science and developments on the ground, in close collaboration with experts. As part of this ongoing evolution, the next version of the Playbooks (which is expected to be final) will be published in June 2021.