Olympics

Test events for 2020 Games begin in full swing

Kyodo

The test events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics started in full swing on Thursday as the Pentathlon World Cup Final opened as the games’ first official dress rehearsal of the year.

The four-day modern pentathlon competition opened at Tokyo’s Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, also one of the sports’ venues at the Olympics next year. More than 70 athletes from over 20 countries will compete here to get a feel for next summer’s setup and competition.

In principal, the test events are held at Olympic and Paralympic venues in a bid to check and improve operations by checking equipment and holding staff training. In addition to the sailing and water polo tests organized last year, a total of 56 events will be held through next May.

The organizers will also focus on checking their countermeasures against Japan’s brutal summer heat at five outdoor test events — beach volleyball, triathlon, boat, hockey and marathon.

The Pentathlon World Cup Final has two 36-competitor fields of men and women, who have qualified through the rankings based on four World Cup events this season. The two individual winners will earn automatic Olympic berths.

“I am very excited to compete here to see how it works, to get a feeling, and maybe to get a bit of this Olympic spirit because this is the start of our qualification,” said Annika Schleu of Germany, the silver medalist at the 2018 world championships.

The modern pentathlon test will be followed by six test events in July, including the Japan Open badminton championships and four events staged by the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.

“Not all international federations have this capability (of holding a test event) but we are in this situation. … I think all of the athletes are very pleased to compete here,” said Klaus Schormann, the president of modern pentathlon’s governing body, UIPM.

Modern pentathlon is a sport in which athletes compete in fencing, swimming, equestrian and laser run — a combination of shooting and running. Its component events will be held at both Musashino Forest Sport Plaza and Tokyo Stadium during the Olympics.

Instead of using Tokyo Stadium itself this time, some of this World Cup Final’s events will take place at AGF Field within the stadium’s complex.

Japan will receive berths in the men’s and women’s Olympic events as host country.

“Competing here gives me the motivation to return to this venue again next year,” said modern pentathlete Shino Yamanaka. “I was very nervous to compete here, but being here allows me to notice what I need to work on.”

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