With a month remaining before the official cutoff, Filipino-Japanese judoka Kiyomi Watanabe is already assured of a slot to the Tokyo Olympics.
The 24-year-old Watanabe has already made the cut through the continental quota system, based on the current Olympic rankings of the International Judo Federation.
The 5’7” Watanabe is currently ranked at no. 38 and is among the top 10 Asians listed so far.
But since there is a limit of one entry per country, Watanabe has already bagged one seat in her weight class.
Philippine Judo Federation president Dave Carter said they are now waiting for a formal announcement from the IJF before they formally proclaim Watanabe as officially qualified.
“We have a slot to the Olympics. But official announcement for those qualified will be sometime in the third week of June,” said Carter in a radio interview.
Based on the official rankings, the Cebu City-based Watanabe is listed as no. 9 in Asia. She will be one of three judokas bound to replace any of the three Japanese bets Nami Nabekura, Doi Masako and Aimi Nouchi, who may be cut from qualification because of eligibility rules.
According to the rules, each country is subject to a limit of one judoka per division.
If a country has more than a single athlete ranked in the top 18 of the world ranking list, the NOC can decide which of their athletes will obtain the quota places.
“She is already qualified via the continental quota system. And she will not be dislodged,” added Carter.
Further continental quotas, 13 men and 12 women for Europe, 12 of each gender for Africa, 10 men and 11 women for Pan America, 10 of each gender for Asia, and 5 of each gender for Oceania are also available.
As for the women’s -63 kg class, among those who have made it ahead of Watanabe are Clarisse Agbegnenou of France, who is the leading qualifier.
Tina Trstenjak of Slovenia is listed, followed by Miko Tashiro of Japan and Andreja Leski of Slovenia.
So far, there are four Japanese judokas listed ahead of Watanabe and many other aspirants. Cuts will be made due to limitations imposed.
Despite her lofty status, Watanabe will seek to earn direct qualification when she joins the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary this June.
A good result will give her a chance to directly qualify for the quadrennial Games.
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