• Kyodo

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Japan’s Rika Kihira is set to miss the Beijing Winter Olympics after she failed to recover from a right ankle injury in time for this week’s qualifying event, the national championships, a source close to the matter said Monday.

Meanwhile, Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan’s two-time Olympic gold medalist in the men’s event, is set to return from an injury layoff, sources close to the matter said.

Kihira has been nursing the pain since July, but the winner of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in December 2018 is now set to wait another four years for her games debut.

It is a bitter blow for the 19-year-old, who could not take part in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games due to age regulations when she was 15. There was high hope for her to win a medal in Beijing after she landed a quad salchow at last year’s nationals.

Hanyu will be making his first appearance of the Olympic season in Saitama near Tokyo after injuring a ligament in his right ankle ahead of the NHK Trophy in mid-November, the fourth event of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating.

The 27-year-old has not traveled to his training base in Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic and has instead been training in Japan.

While he has not announced he is aiming for the Beijing Games, his unrivaled record is likely to see him taking up one of the three Japanese men’s Olympic berths.

Hanyu missed the nationals ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Games with right ankle pain but still secured his place in the games en route to winning his second gold medal.

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