The World Football Championships will be hosted by Japan in 2020. This means that Japanese officials will be allocating a large amount of resources to building new stadiums. It is an international event, and it would benefit Japan to see more countries than just Germany at the event. However, there are some countries that are obvious choices, like the US and Brazil. Others are not as obvious, like Uzbekistan. This is why it is important that Japan make sure they make the right choices in order to succeed both on the field and in international relations.

With the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo fast approaching, interest in the event has been growing in Canada. While the target audience for the Olympics is largely in North America, the competition has also become more international. The most obvious example of this is China, which has been hosting the Summer Olympics since 1986, but the 2020 games will be the first one in which the host nation will have a team that is not exclusively composed of athletes from China.

Japan’s 2020 Summer Olympics, the third time the Japanese capital has hosted the Games, will provide a fresh opportunity for Tokyo to show off the wealth of its infrastructure and culture. As hosts, Tokyo will stage 30 sports and host 14 events. Japan is expected to win at least four gold medals, and a host nation has never won more than 10. If the Japanese capital comes through with all of its promises, this could be another good Olympics for the country.

Countdown clock showing five days until the Tokyo 2020 Opening ceremony

The Japanese Olympic Committee has set a goal of 30 gold medals for the Tokyo 2020 hosts, which is almost twice their previous high of 16 gold medals in 1964 and 2004.

So, where are they likely to be won? Here are a few of Team Japan’s competitors.

Badminton player Kento Momota

Kento MomotaMomota, the world number one, has won the last two Japan Opens.

Kento Momota, a two-time world champion and world number one, was anticipated to be among the favorites for gold in Rio 2016.

However, only months before the Games, the 26-year-old was barred from competing by his national federation after confessing to gambling, which is prohibited in Japan in virtually all forms.

Momata was engaged in a deadly car accident in January 2020, requiring surgery for a broken eye socket and believing he would never play again.

The Tokyo Olympics were postponed two months later due to the coronavirus epidemic, and he enters the rescheduled Games having “rediscovered the love of badminton.”

Momota, who attended school in Fukushima, the site of the terrible 2011 earthquake, believes that winning gold would make up for his disappointment in 2016.

“It must be destiny that the 10-year anniversary [of the earthquake] falls during the Tokyo Olympics year, when I’m in excellent condition,” he added. “At the previous Games, I blew it for a lot of people, and I want to make up.”

Volleyball team for women

Women's volleyball teamJapan won gold in the Asian Championships in 2019 and 12 of 15 matches in the Volleyball Nations League this year.

Japan’s ladies, who are ranked fourth in the world, had high expectations, while being under less pressure than when they won gold in 1964.

Despite inflicting a first-ever World Championship loss on the Soviet Union two years before, the squad did not want to compete in the Olympics since they were of’marriageable age.’

The ‘Witches of the Orient,’ trained by Hirofumi Daimatsu, a former platoon commander in the Japanese Imperial Army, won gold after receiving over 5,000 letters pleading with them to participate.

It is still the most-watched sports event in Japanese history, with up to 80% of the public tuning in.

In women’s volleyball, Japan’s most recent Olympic medal was a bronze in 2012.

Freestyle Wrestling

Risako Kawai and Yukako KawaiRisako (left) and Yukako (right) want to make history by being the first sisters to win an Olympic wrestling medal.

Risako Kawai, 26, and her younger sister Yukako, 23, are attempting to create history by becoming the first sisters to win Olympic wrestling gold.

Risako participated in the 63kg weight class in Rio, and after winning gold and memorably lifting her coach onto her shoulders in celebration, she moved down a weight class to let her sister to compete in her place.

Since Rio, Risako has won three consecutive world championships.

Yukako finished second in the 2019 World Championships and first in the Asian Championships in 2020, defeating 2019 world champion Aisuluu Tynybekova on the way.

Skateboarding

Some of Japan's Olympic skateboarders: Momiji Nishiya (left), Misugu Okamoto (centre, top), Ayumu Hirano (centre, bottom) Kokona Hiraki (right)The hosts have competitors in every event, including skateboarding, which is making its Olympic debut.

Street

In the age of 13, Momiji Nishiya is rated fifth in the world after winning silver at the World Championships in June. She was also awarded Asia Rookie Of The Year 2020 after winning silver at the X Games in Minneapolis when she was just 11 years old.

At the previous two Winter Games, Ayumu Hirano, 22, has finished second behind American snowboarder Shaun White on both occasions.

White had wanted to participate in the first street skateboarding category at the Olympics, but he is now focusing for his fourth Winter Games in 2022.

Hirano will outdo White by competing in both the summer and winter Olympics by earning a Tokyo berth.

More than 100 athletes have done so, but only five have won medals in both, including American Lauryn Williams (athletics: 4x100m gold and 100m silver; bobsleigh: two-woman silver).

Park

When the Olympic qualification window opened in June 2019 at a Dew Tour event in Long Beach, California, few people had heard of 15-year-old Misugu Okamoto.

But, because of her domination – by an unheard-of margin of 15 points – she will start as the favorite in Tokyo little over two years later.

In 2019, she won every international competition she participated and was third on the podium at the 2021 Dew Tour event in Des Moines in May.

Kokona Hiraki, 12, will become Japan’s youngest summer Olympian, surpassing Yukari Takemoto, who competed in the 1968 Mexico Olympics when she was 13 years and 174 days old.

Hiraki is no stranger to creating history. When she participated in the 2019 X Games at the age of ten, she made history as the youngest female participant ever. She is the world number six and this year won the Japanese national championship, which is no small accomplishment since Japan has four of the top seven athletes in the world.

Surfing

Kanoa IgarashiKanoa Igarashi was the 2016 World Surf League Championship Tour’s youngest rookie.

Kanoa Igarashi, 23, was born to Japanese parents in the United States.

When Tsutomu’s surfing-obsessed father Tsutomu and his wife Misa learned they were having a kid, they planned to relocate to ‘Surf City,’ Huntington Beach, California, to give their child the greatest chance of becoming a surfing superstar.

Despite the fact that he resides in the United States, Igarashi has been a household figure in Japan since he was 11 years old, when he featured in a reality TV program about his life as a surfer.

He won his first professional surfing competition at the age of 15 and his first World Surf League Championship Tour event in Bali in 2019.

He also has a hidden weapon in the form of his father Tsutomu, who grew up surfing at Tsurigasaki Beach, the Olympic site.

“That wave was found by him and his buddies,” Igarashi adds. “They went over fences and walked across the grass to reach this wave, which they named the Dojo and kept to themselves.”

“And for him, it’s an emotional, unique connection: a wave he found is where his kid will participate in the Olympics for the first time. It’s a weird, full circle situation.”

Karate

Ryo KiyunaAt the World Championships, Ryo Kiyuna has won five gold medals.

Ryo Kiyuna, 31, is probably the best gold medal candidate in Japan – in any sport.

He has won the previous three men’s kata global championships and went unbeaten in 2019 – a season that featured five Premier League tournaments, a third consecutive Asian crown, and an eighth national title.

Since junior high, he has had the same master – or coach – and never misses a day of instruction.

Five to six hours of technical practice are followed by one or two hours of physical labor on those days. He also works as a coach four days a week.

Kiyuna is from Okinawa, the birthplace of karate, and he integrates traditional Okinawan dancing into his performances, as well as studying the eye movements of lions and tigers.

Judo

Japan's mixed Judo team at the 2019 World ChampionshipsThe team event comes on the last day of judo competition, and the Japanese team will be aiming to finish the Olympics on a good note.

Mixed-gender group

“We’re going to win this one no matter what.” The message from Yasuhiro Yamashita, head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, could not be clearer.

Their victory in the World Championships in Tokyo in 2019 was their third in a row. In June, they made it four in a row in Hungary.

Despite sending a B-team to Budapest instead of their Tokyo-selected athletes, they won all eight of their fights in Hungary, including the final against archrivals France.

They won six golds, four silvers, and two bronzes in the World Championships. No other country won more than one gold medal, and Japan took home eight more medals than anybody else.

Tennis

Naomi Osaka training on Center Court at the Ariake Tennis ParkNaomi Osaka works out on the Ariake Tennis Park’s Center Court.

Last but not least, Naomi Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam winner, has been named one of the Olympics’ faces.

Will she be able to live up to the expectations of the host country after not playing since withdrawing from the French Open in June?

Osaka had won the previous two Grand Slams on hard courts before to her withdrawal, and she is now ranked second in the world.

But, with no spectators at these Games, would Tokyo have a ‘home advantage’?

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