March 27 ------ “Karate’s international organization will work with different stakeholders to establish the most appropriate dates for the Qualification Tournament once that the final timeline for the Olympics … is confirmed,” the international federation said on its website on Wednesday. The event, which is the last and the biggest stop for karatekas hoping to tab an Olympic berth, was originally scheduled for May. It was later moved to June because of the mounting COVID-19 concerns.
Filipino-Japanese Junna Tsukii, one of the Philippines’ aspirants, was saddened by the development, but still doubled down on her target. “My goal is [to become] a world champion. It doesn’t change in any situation,” she said in a Facebook post also Wednesday night. Tsukii is currently ranked 15th in the WKF’s -55kg female kata draw. She is also the 6th best karatedo in the continental ladder.
The Paris event was supposedly Tsukii’s last opportunity to shore up her rankings following the cancellation of the Karate 1-Premier in Rabat, Morroco, last March. “[The Olympics have been postponed to] 2021. That’s sad for the host country Japan and all athletes. But I think this decision is very important for the safety and health of the people of the world,” she added.
The WKF last week announced the first batch of athletes who were able to punch their ticket to the Summer Games in Tokyo. Five more spots for each of the eight events have yet to be filled. Three of those will come from the Paris tournament, while the others, from continental selection and invites from the Tripartite Commission.
In the same social media entry, the Southeast Asian Games gold medalist and Asian Games bronze winner lauded frontline workers. “I want to thank and respect everyone who fights on the front line to save people’s lives from [COVID-19],” said Tsukii.