• Reuters

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The women's solo kata competition kicked off karate's first foray into the Olympics on Thursday with the 10 karateka performing routines in a hushed, spectator-less Nippon Budokan arena, the spiritual home of Japanese martial arts in Tokyo.

In the elimination and ranking rounds, the two "queens of kata" — Japan's Kiyou Shimizu and Spain's Sandra Sanchez — scored head-and-shoulders above the rest, as widely expected, to advance to the final contest for karate's maiden gold.

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