Uchimura Kohei to compete in Japan's first coronavirus-era international sporting event next month

Three-time Olympic champion set to appear in mixed team gymnastics Friendship and Solidarity Competition in Tokyo on 8 November along with Russia's Nikita Nagornyy and Angelina Melnikova.

By Shintaro Kano and Scott Bregman ·

Uchimura Kohei will compete in the first international sporting event in Japan of the coronavirus era at a four-nation artistic gymnastics meet in Tokyo next month, the sport's international governing body (FIG) announced on Monday (12 October).

The two-time defending Olympic all-around champion, along with reigning world champion Nikita Nagornyy, will be one of 32 athletes from the United States, Russia, China, and Japan taking part in the 8 November mixed team Friendship and Solidarity Competition at the iconic Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

In an Instagram live with Olympic Channel on Sunday, 2019 World all-around bronze medallist Angelina Melnikova confirmed her participation in the event. Fellow Russian Artur Dalaloyan will also take part. As will Uchimura's compatriots Kaya Kazuma and Teramoto Asuka.

The 31-year-old Uchimura only returned to competition last month for the first time in a year, as a horizontal-bar specialist targeting the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021.

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The athletes will be split into two sides - the Friendship and Solidarity teams - over 10 disciplines (six men, four women) with a crowd of around 2,000 to be admitted.

The event will feature a host of COVID countermeasures. The athletes will be tested daily and restricted to the venue, practice facility, and their hotels.

"This will not be so much about competition but our will to show the world that we are still chasing our dreams even in the pandemic behind friendship and solidarity", FIG President Watanabe Morinori said during an online press conference.

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For USA Gymnastics, it will be the first competition for any of its elite athletes since March.

In a statement to Olympic Channel, the governing body confirmed their six-gymnast roster to be Yul Moldauer, Paul Juda, Shane Wiskus, Sophia Butler, eMjae Frazier, and Shilese Jones. The U.S. roster was selected based on "interest from men's and women's artistic National Team members."

USA Gymnastics also emphasized the COVID-19 safety procedures in place for the event.

"All participants will follow strict medical guidelines based on those that were approved in September by the International Gymnastics Federation’s Executive Committee and reviewed by the USA Gymnastics medical staff," the statement read. "Safety protocols, such as regular COVID-19 testing and private travel and lodging accommodations, are intended to create a “bubble” atmosphere for the event."