Japan Pulls Women's Team from Asian Championships Over Suspected Contact with Coronavirus
Saturday, April 10, 2021 - 05:29 By Ken Marantz
ALMATY, Kazakhstan (April 10) --- The Japan women's team for the upcoming Asian Championships, which includes Olympic champions Risako KAWAI (JPN) and Sara DOSHO (JPN), was suddenly withdrawn because of suspected contact with the coronavirus, the Japan Wrestling Federation announced on its website Friday.
The federation emphasized that no member of the 10-women team had tested positive for the coronavirus themselves, but that contact tracing showed an unspecified number may have been exposed to someone infected.
The decision was made just as the team was to have accompanied the men's freestyle team on the flight to Almaty via Istanbul for the tournament starting April 13. It follows the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament currently underway at the same venue.
The federation said that while no team members had tested positive in a PCR test the previous day, nor had any displayed symptoms of the coronavirus. But because of the suspected contact, it could not mitigate the risk of possibly infecting wrestlers from other countries in Almaty.
It was a shocking development, given that sports officials put strict protocols in place at the National Training Center in Tokyo, where the wrestling squads had pre-tournament national camps.
Kawai (57kg) and Dosho (68kg) were among five members of the women's team to Almaty who had already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, along with Mayu MUKAIDA (53kg), Yukako KAWAI (62kg) and Hiroe MINAGAWA (76kg).
For all but Dosho, it was to have been their first overseas competition since last year's Asian Championships held in New Delhi in February 2020. The Kawai sisters and Minagawa would have been defending their Asian titles. Dosho's last trip overseas was to the 2019 World Championships in Nursultan.
The other team members are: Remina YOSHIMOTO (50kg), Tsugumi SAKURAI (55kg), Akie HANAI (59kg), Miwa MORIKAWA (65kg) and Masako FURUICHI (72kg). They had earned their places on the team with victories at the All-Japan Championships in December 2020.