2020 Japan

Akiko Suzuki/Photo: Susan D. Russell

Following a Sept. 1 board meeting, the Japan Skating federation announced it would host the 2020 Japan Open at the Saitama Super Arena on Oct. 3 in a modified format. 

Due to the travel restrictions currently in place, only Japanese skaters will contest the event this year. The federation has named the athletes that will compete: Wakaba Higuchi, Tomoe Kawabata, Yuhana Yokoi, Marin Honda, Sota Yamamoto, Lucas Tsuyoshi Honda, Ryuju Hino, Hana Yoshida, Chisato Uramatsu and a professional skater, Hiroaki Sato. An injury forced Keiji Tanaka to withdraw from this competition.

A gala show will take place in the same venue following the competition. “Carnival on Ice” will feature the skaters competing in the 2020 Japan Open, as well as Akiko Suzuki and the ice dance team of Misato Komatsubara and Timothy Koleto. Nathan Chen and Mariah Bell will make virtual appearances at both the competition and the show.

Limited spectators will be permitted to attend both the competition and the show. TV Tokyo, the host broadcaster, will air both the competition and show on Japanese television. A live stream will be available for a fee. Official website link

NATIONALS UPDATE

The 2020 All Japan Championships are scheduled to take place Dec. 23-27 in Nagano. In light of the current situation, some concessions have been made by the federation. Satoko Miyahara, fourth at 2019 nationals, has been given a bye to the Championships. The exception for Miyahara, who trains in Canada, was based on her body of work last season, including being named to the 2020 World team. This alleviates the necessity of her having to return to Japan to compete at a regional or sectional competition.

The criterion for earning a place on the team for the 2021 World Championships was also announced. Japan has three places for men and ladies, and one each in pairs and ice dance in Stockholm.

 

Skaters must compete at the 2020 All Japan Championships to be eligible for Worlds (with a caveat). The winners of each discipline will automatically be named to the team, but the remaining places will be determined by respective results on the Grand Prix Series and the subsequent ISU World Standing ranking.

Given that Yuzuru Hanyu has opted not to compete on the Grand Prix stages for health and safety reasons, it is possible he may also miss the national championships, but would be ready and willing to go to the World Championships.

The current situation with COVID-19 makes it impossible at this time for this selection criterion to be written in stone. The federation has reserved the right to review and make changes after the Grand Prix Series and following the conclusion of the Grand Prix Final (whenever that may be).

The new ice dance team of Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi will make its debut at the Western Japan Sectional Championships, which take place Oct. 30 through Nov. 1, 2020. 

Japan has submitted a bid to host the 2023 World Championships, which would once again take place in Saitama. Tentative dates are March 20-26.

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