• Kyodo

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Japan has qualified for pairs figure skating at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which begin in February, the Japan Skating Federation announced Wednesday.

Japan clinched the spot after North Korea, which took one of the final Olympic berths in a qualifying event in September, failed to confirm its attendance with the world governing body by the Nov. 30 deadline.

The North Korean pair of Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik finished third at the qualifier in Oberstdorf, Germany, at which five Olympic places were up for grabs.

The pair representing Japan, Sumire Suto and Canadian Francis Boudreau-Audet, finished sixth, making Japan the first substitute in case of forfeit by one of the top five pairs.

As the duo is ineligible to represent Japan at the Olympics, due to Boudreau-Audet’s Canadian citizenship, the Olympic pair will be determined at the national championships to be held in Tokyo from Dec. 21-24.

Narumi Takahashi and Ryuichi Kihara represented Japan in the same event at the 2014 Sochi Games after Estonia relinquished a qualifying spot.

The inclusion of a Japanese pair means the country will be represented in every figure skating event in Pyeongchang, with three individual men, two women and an ice dancing team having already qualified.

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