FOCUS ON-Karate at the Tokyo Olympics


FILE PHOTO: Spain's Karate kata athlete Sandra Sanchez, current World and European Champion, strikes a pose during her training session at High Performance Center (CAR) while preparing for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games, where Karate will be an Olympic sport for the first time, in Madrid, Spain, March 3, 2021. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

(Reuters) - Focus on karate at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics:

THE ABSOLUTE BASICS

* There are two types of events: "kata" (form) and "kumite" (sparring)

* In kata, individuals demonstrate offensive and defensive movements against a virtual opponent and are scored on factors including speed, rhythm, balance, sharpness and power.

* Competitors choose from 102 kata forms and are not allowed to repeat the same kata during a single competition.

* The "kumite" event involves two competitors facing each other with the aim of landing scoring blows to target areas that are awarded one to three points.

HOW MANY MEDALS? Eight gold medals are up for grabs, including one each for men's and women's kata. Kumite is divided into three weight categories each for men (-67kg, -75kg, +75kg) and women (-55kg, -61kg, +61kg).

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN TOKYO?

There will be 80 'karatekas' competing as karate makes its Olympics debut. Its future at the Games remains uncertain as karate will not be on the programme for Paris 2024.

WHEN IS IT HAPPENING?

Aug. 5-7

WHERE IS IT HAPPENING?

Nippon Budokan, the spiritual home of Japanese traditional martial arts, built in 1964. The venue hosted judo for the Tokyo Olympics that year and is also a popular venue for rock concerts, including The Beatles in 1966.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Karate probably formed through the mixture of indigenous defensive tactics practised by the warrior class in the Ryukyu Kingdom - now Japan's southern-most prefecture of Okinawa - and Chinese martial arts. It started spreading around Japan in the 1920s and now boasts more than 130 million enthusiasts in nearly 200 countries, according to the World Karate Federation.

WELL FANCY THAT

Japan's prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, holds a black belt in karate and was instrumental in getting it a place at the Olympics, leading a group of lawmakers in lobbying efforts while he was chief cabinet secretary.

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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