• Kyodo


Swimming star Daiya Seto hit the pool for about an hour Monday at the National Training Center as the Olympic practice facility reopened following the end of Japan's state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak.

The reigning world champion in the men's 200- and 400-meter individual medley resumed his campaign for gold at the delayed Tokyo Olympics next summer, completing a full-scale practice for the first time in about two months.

"I'm used to swimming in this pool every day, so it felt really natural," Seto said through his management company. "I'm still in the process of getting started, but I am progressing toward (the Olympics) next year."

The National Training Center and the Japan Institute of Sports Sciences in Tokyo's Kita Ward — the training headquarters for Japan's Olympic and Paralympic athletes — were closed in early April in response to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's declaration of a state of emergency.

Seto's new coach, his former classmate Ryuichiro Ura, was unable to attend as only athletes were granted access to the facility from Monday. Restrictions are expected to be gradually relaxed over time, according to the Japan Swimming Federation.

Among other athletes who resumed training on Monday, sport shooter Yukari Konishi also practiced for the first time in several months and remains hopeful of booking a spot at the games.

"I was happy to hold a rifle on the shooting range," Konishi said after facing down the target once again.

Due to the one-year postponement of the Tokyo Games because of the coronavirus, the final selection meeting of Japan's Olympic shooting team was cancelled.

Konishi, one of the final candidates for slots in the women's air pistol and 25-meter pistol, said, "I'm happier since I can get better than I am now."

Koki Niwa, who has already confirmed his spot on the Japanese men's table tennis squad, also resumed practicing along with the elite academy based at the center.

"Table tennis is an interpersonal sport, so it's good to be back in an environment where you can practice with others," said Yoshihito Miyazaki, head of development at the Japan Table Tennis Association,

The table tennis players representing Japan at the Olympics are scheduled to start a training camp on or after June 19, when the request to voluntarily limit travel across prefectural borders is expected to be lifted.

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