• Kyodo


The Japan Gymnastics Association said Monday it has chosen three-time Olympic champion Kohei Uchimura for a team competing in a four-nation meet next month, the first international event for an Olympic sport in Japan since the postponement of the Tokyo Games caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The association said overseas gymnasts will not be asked to quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival in Japan but can only travel between their hotels, their training bases and the competition venue — Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo — for the one-day event on Nov. 8 that will only allow 2,000 spectators inside.

The overseas gymnasts, including 23-year-old Russian Nikita Nagornyy, who won three gold medals in the men’s at the world championships last year in Stuttgart, will all have to take a polymerase chain reaction test within 72 hours before they depart their respective countries and also test every day once in Japan.

The event, sanctioned by the International Gymnastics Federation, pits Japan against powerhouses Russia, China and the United States. A total of 32 gymnasts will compete with each country entering a four-member team for each gender.

Uchimura, 31, will not defend his men’s overall or team title next summer and will focus on the horizontal bar due to pain in his shoulders.

“Someone has to take up the running. I hope it will be of help in hosting the Tokyo Games,” FIG President Morinari Watanabe, who played a coordinating role with the Japanese government in holding the event, said during an online press conference.

Though smaller in scale, the government and the Tokyo Games organizing committee see the event as a trial run for hosting the games next summer, with border control and tracking of athletes’ movements once in Japan among issues to come under scrutiny.

International competitions have resumed abroad during the pandemic, but Japan’s emergency travel restrictions have stopped local organizers from staging events.

The International Judo Federation last month decided to give up on holding its Tokyo Grand Slam in December. On Friday, it was learned that next year’s Tokyo Marathon that was originally scheduled for March 2021, would be delayed until October that year.

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