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Now set to be a compelling curtain-raiser to the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games, the 2021 World Masters Games in Kansai, Japan will feature more sports and more disciplines than ever before.

Next year will see 35 sports and 59 disciplines at the 10th edition of the Games including ultimate flying disc and tug of war for the first time.

More than 50,000 people are expected to take part in the four yearly spectacle, making it the largest yet, with around 20,000 expected to fly in from overseas to compete.

Once the coronavirus crisis and social isolation are a distant memory, if you’re over 30 and healthy, you can apply to enter any of the sporting competitions – and there is also a long list of sports for disabled entrants too.

More importantly though is the chance to meet and make new friends of all ages, genders and nationalities from across the world, together in sport.

Kansai Games is specifically creating a village for participants to enjoy interacting, eating and drinking, while meeting new people and also experiencing Japanese culture.

But don’t think you’ll stroll to a place on a podium – some ex-Olympians, including Olympic medallists, have already registered to compete at the World Masters Games – and the list of sports featured is comprehensive.

Athletes can compete for medals in Archery (Outdoor Archery/Indoor Archery), Athletics (Track & Field/10 km Road Race/Half Marathon/EKIDEN/Race walking), Badminton, Baseball (Baseball/Rubber Baseball), Basketball, Canoe (Marathon/Sprint/Slalom/Polo/Dragon Boat), Cycling (Track/Road Race/Mountain Bike/BMX), Dance Sports, Football (Football/Futsal), Flying Disc (Ultimate), Gateball, Golf, Ground Golf, Handball, Hockey, Judo, Karate, Lifesaving, Orienteering (Sprint/Forest), Rowing, Rugby, Sailing (Sailing/Windsurfing), Shooting (Clay/Rifle), Softball, Soft Tennis, Squash, Swimming (Swimming/Diving/Water Polo/Artistic Swimming/Open Water), Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Tenpin Bowling, Triathlon (Triathlon/Aquathlon/Duathlon), Tug of War, Volleyball (Indoor/Beach Volleyball) and Weightlifting.

One of the showstopper events is set to be the rugby tournament to be held in Hanazono Rugby Stadium, which was the venue for the Rugby World Cup last year.

Teams are already lining up to take part in that, and organisers have been flooded with entries already for the athletics events, with hockey and softball teams also keen to participate too.

Although the World Masters Games will miss Japan’s breathtaking cherry blossom bloom, it’s still a chance to see the unmatched beauty of the country and sample its unique food and culture.

The Games will be held across the Kansai region, taking in Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, and their world-famous tourist hotspots Fukui, Shiga, Hyogo, Nara, Wakayama, Tottori and Tokushima Prefectures.

The opening ceremony will kick the Kansai 2021 Games off at Heian Jingu Shrine in Kyoto on May 14 and run for two week until the closing ceremony near Osaka Castle on May 30.

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