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Japan defeated Korea 8-5 in Friday morning’s first playoff game of the Olympic Qualification Event to book their nation’s spot at 2022 Olympic Winter Games in February.

Japan joins already-qualified Scotland (who will compete as Great Britain) in Beijing. Korea will have a second chance to join them, in the second playoff game against Latvia.

Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa won Olympic bronze at PyeongChang 2018 after losing a thrilling semifinal to Korea’s Kim Eun-Jung, who won silver.

Céline Stucki-WCF

Céline Stucki-WCF

In the OQE playoff at Leeuwarden, Netherlands, Fujisawa and Kim traded singles before the Japanese tapped out a Korean stone to score two points and take a 3-1 lead.

In the fourth end, it was Kim’s turn to draw for two points, to level the score again at 3-3.

In the fifth end, Japan’s Fujisawa played a double takeout for another deuce, and took a 5-3 lead into the break.

After blanking the sixth end, Korea’s Kim was facing four Japan stones when she came to play her final shot in the seventh end. However, her draw came up short and Korea surrendered a killer steal of two, as Japan built their lead to 7-3.

Following a Japanese steal, Kim had a chance to score five points in the ninth end but her angle raise attempt went wrong and she had to settle for two, reducing Japan’s lead to 8-5.

“I’m really, really happy to win this game,” said a delighted Fujisawa. “I was a little nervous about playing Korea in this game, but I stayed strong and that’s why I’m so happy to play well in this game. The situation in the ninth end was very tough but we kept our communication at its best and that’s why we’re so happy.”



Earlier in the competition, both Japan’s mixed doubles team (Chiaki Matsumura and Yasumasa Tanida) and men’s team (skipped by Yuta Matsumura) failed to qualify for the Games. Fujisawa’s foursome—once they are formally nominated by Japan—will be the sole Japanese representatives curling at the Olympic Winter Games.

In men’s playoff action, the Czech Republic will have two chances to qualify for Beijing—the first coming against Italy. The loser then faces Denmark for the final Olympic berth.