The finalists from the world championships last September will be seeded at this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, United World Wrestling announced Thursday.
The decision will boost women’s 53-kg division World champion Saori Yoshida, aiming for her fourth straight Olympic gold, as well as Kaori Icho in the 58-kg division and Eri Tosaka (48 kg). All three will be handed top seeds.
Wrestlers weren’t seeded in previous Olympic tournaments, leading to a number of high-profile names fighting each other in early rounds.
“It’ll alleviate the risk of facing stern opponents from the first round,” Japan Wrestling Federation director of development Kazuhito Sakae said. “It will be easier to come up with countermeasures, too.”
UWW has set a ranking for each division and plans to reflect that in the draws for key international tournaments in the future.