All-Japan Judo Federation selects 13 of 14 weight classes for Olympic Games with MARUYAMA Joshiro and ABE Hifumi facing off in April for final team berth.
Rio Olympic men's 73 kilogram champion ONO Shohei and reigning women's 52 kg world champion ABE Uta were among 13 judoka named for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by the All-Japan Judo Federation on Thursday (27 February).
The one remaining place on the Japanese judo team - the men's 66 kg - will be decided in April, with a bout between world champion MARUYAMA Joshiro and ABE's older brother Hifumi, who will slug it out at the All-Japan weight category championships.
The Olympic judo competition, featuring 14 weight classes, will run from 25 July to 1 August at the sport's mecca, Nippon Budokan.
"I just need to prepare with a sense of determination", ONO said at a press conference. "But that's probably no different to what I've been doing all along".
Japan's Olympic champion tells us why high expectations only motivate him even more.
ONO, widely regarded as the world's best pound-for-pound judoka, is one of four men who will be making their second Olympic appearance in Tokyo alongside TAKATO Naohisa (60 kg), NAGASE Takanori (81 kg) and HARASAWA Hisayoshi (over-100 kg).
TASHIRO Miku in the women's 63 kg is the only female with Games experience.
Winner of last year's world championships in Tokyo and Grand Slam Osaka in the over-78 kg, SONE Akira had already punched her ticket to the Olympic Games.
While the fate of her brother remains to be seen, ABE Uta, who has won the last two worlds in her division and coming off victory at last week's Grand Slam Dusseldorf, is now set to make her much-anticipated Olympic debut.
"I've been competing all long with the goal of winning the title at the Tokyo Olympics", ABE said. "It's a huge load off my shoulders knowing I've at least made the team".
Already a world champion, teenage judoka ABE Uta knows she will need to be mentally and emotionally strong if she is to give her best at the Olympic Games on home soil.
Rounding out the squad are Aaron Wolf and MUKAI Shoichiro in the men's 100 kg and 81 kg, respectively, and for the women HAMADA Shori (78 kg), ARAI Chizuru (70 kg), YOSHIDA Tsukasa (57 kg) and TONAKI Huna (48 kg).
By the Olympic Channel