Host Japan off to winning start at Asian Winter Games

SAPPORO, Japan (AP) Japan overpowered defending champion Kazakhstan 6-0 in women's ice hockey on Saturday, the first day of competition at the Asian Winter Games.

More than 2,000 athletes from 31 countries are competing in five sports, 11 disciplines and 64 events in Sapporo on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido.

On Friday, the first contingent of North Korean athletes and officials arrived for the games, after receiving visas as an exception to Japan's ongoing entry ban on North Korean citizens.

Fresh from qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Japan faced little resistance in its opening game. Ami Nakamura and captain Chiho Osawa scored two goals each.

South Korea destroyed Thailand 20-0, while China thrashed Hong Kong by the same score, in other games in the women's ice hockey tournament.

Hong Kong trounced Singapore 12-1 in men's ice hockey.

Also, Japan beat Taiwan 11-3 in men's curling while the Japanese women beat Qatar 17-1 after eight ends. China beat Kazakhstan 20-2 in the other women's match.

The opening ceremony will be held on Sunday at Sapporo Dome.

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