Tokyo (AFP)

The United States qualified in all styles, Russia still at the top and Japan, in force in the women, are the favorites of the wrestling tournament of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

With a total of nine medals, including four gold, Russia dominated the Rio Olympics in 2016, ahead of Japan (7 medals, 4 titles), Cuba and the United States.

And these nations still have every chance of making up the final quartet in Chiba, a city east of Tokyo Bay, which hosts the wrestling events from Sunday.

Russia, which competes under a neutral banner "is the N.1 nation whether in Greco-Roman wrestling or freestyle wrestling. Among women, Japan dominates," recalls Eric Olanowski, of the International Wrestling Federation.

In freestyle wrestling, where the grips can be worn all over the body, one of the Russian stars is named Abdulrashid Sadulaev (-97 kg), world No. 1, four times world champion and who will aim for a double after his title in Rio.

The other Russian Zaurbek Sidakov comes forward with a title of double world champion in -74 kg but will have to rule out two other double world champions, the American Kyle Dake and the Italian Frank Chamizo.

In the -125 kg category, the Georgian Geno Petriaschivili will have the favor of the predictions but will be under the threat of the Turkish Taha Akgul, titled in Rio.

A real star not only in his country, the Indian Bajrang Bajrang (-65 kg) will be very well followed.

- Lopez for a fourth unreleased track -

In Greco-Roman wrestling, where the holds must be worn above the belt, the headliner is called Mijain Lopez.

At 38, the Cuban, flag bearer of his country during the last three Olympics, will aim for an unprecedented fourth Olympic title.

His biggest rival will be the Turkish Riza Kayaalf, four times world champion.

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Another attraction are two siblings, Hungarians Viktor and Tamas Lorincz and Iranians Mohammadreza and Mahammadali Geraei, who will all be aiming for a medal.

In the women's category (freestyle wrestling), the Japanese Risako Kawai and Sara Dosho, gold medalists in Rio, will try for the double.

To follow the American Adeline Gray, the first American to win five world championship titles, while the Azerbaijani Mariya Stadnik will aim for a rare fourth Olympic medal, after bronze in 2008 and silver in 2012 and 2016.

It should be noted that the absence of North Korea and its world champion Yong Mi Pak in the -53 kg category offers a title chance for the Japanese Mayu Mukaida, double world champion.

In the -68 kg category, the French Koumba Larroque, world No. 1 and vice-world champion, can bring France a first Olympic title since 2008.

© 2021 AFP