77 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualified players have made the trip to the 2016 ITTF World Tour Laox Japan Open which begun today in Tokyo, Japan.

The Japan Open is the second last major event before Rio 2016, so the world’s best are taking the opportunity for a final hit out, as well as gaining Race to Doha points in their bid to qualify for the World Tour Grand Finals later in the year.

The Japanese women’s Olympic team comprising of Kasumi ISHIKAWA, Ai FUKUHARA and 15-year-old Mima ITO fronted a packed press conference yesterday, with over 100 journalists with Olympic fever cramming into the press conference room.

The trio who have high hopes for Rio 2016, also are confident of a strong showing at the Japan Open this week on home soil. FUKUHARA the number seventh seeded, and 2013 champion stated: “Rio 2016 is firmly in our minds, but first we plan to perform well in front of our home fans. I know how it feels like to win this big event, and I wish to do it again this year. I will be trying my best in every match to make my dream a reality.”

To win here in Tokyo, the Japanese team will have to navigate past a full strength Chinese outfit. World number one LIU Shiwen will be looking to forget the fact that she missed out on singles Olympic selection by showing a strong performance in Tokyo. The top seed will be joined by China’s Olympic singles players World champion DING Ning and Olympic champion LI Xiaoxia here in the Tokyo Gymnasium, which will be the venue of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games table tennis event.

Jun MIZUTANI, who is fresh from two consecutive World Tour victories at the Slovenian and Australian Open, will lead the local hopes in the men’s event which has eight of the top ten men in the world competing.

China, who have come with the top four men in the world: MA Long, FAN Zhendong, defending champion XU Xin and ZHANG Jike will make it tough for MIZUTANI to make a hat trick of wins in front of his home crowd.

Adding in Vladimir SAMSONOV (BLR) that has a record 26 World Tour titles to his name and the evergreen CHUANG Chih-Yuan (TPE), it will be a mouth watering event!

Qualification for the main draw of 32 begun today 15 June and lasts for two days before the knockout main draw begins on Friday 17 June and the winners will be crowned on Sunday 19 June.

The Laox Japan Open is the 11th of the 20 events on the 2016 ITTF World Tour and the fourth Super Series event of the year. The ITTF World Tour is categorized into three tiers: Super (six events) Major (six events) and Challenge (eight events). The higher the tier, the higher the prize money, better playing conditions and tougher competition for the title.

All the players playing ITTF World Tour events are fighting for not only for prize money and world ranking points, but also World Tour ranking points to qualify for the lucrative World Tour Grand Finals, taking place on 8-11 December 2016 in Doha, Qatar.

The 2016 ITTF World Tour is set to be the most extensively followed tour in history, with more events shown live throughout the world on television, and all the events being shown live on ITTF’s live streaming platform, ITTF.com/itTV.

In addition to the men’s and women’s singles event at the Laox Japan Open, the world’s best players will also be playing men’s and women’s doubles and the stars of the future will be lining up in the men’s and women’s under 21 events.

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