By Nick Giongco
Fil-Japanese bonebreaker Kiyomi Watanabe’s inclusion in the Tokyo Olympics is almost a done deal.
Judo chief Dave Carter said the International Judo Federation (IJF) has “decided to cut off our qualifications systems to until the Düsseldorf Grand Slam held third week of February.”
With Watanabe, 23, making the cutoff “that would make Kiyomi qualified just via the Continental Quota,” noted Carter.
The judo chief had earlier hoped for another qualifier if Watanabe made it via “direct qualification,” meaning the Cebu-born athlete earning the berth by way of activity.
“If that happened, we could have gotten another slot (for another athlete),” Carter said.
Watanabe is back in Tokyo recovering from injuries sustained during the Düsseldorf grapplefest.
“She got hurt a little in her match in Dusseldorf. But nothing uncommon in this sport,” added Carter.
Watanabe is a four-tome Southeast Asian Games gold medalist and 2018 Jakarta Asian Games silver medalist.
Once the IJF validates Carter’s assessment, Watanabe will become the fifth Filipino qualifier to Tokyo after pole vaulter EJ Obiena, world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno.
Also waiting in the wings is Rio 2016 weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, who, like Watanabe, is just one sanctioned tournament from formalizing her inclusion to the 2020 Tokyo Games.