Bulgaria have withdrawn from the World Championships over an injury to Laura Traets ©Getty Images

A serious injury to Laura Traets has caused Olympic champions Bulgaria to pull out the upcoming Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Japan.

The Bulgarian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation (BRGF) has confirmed the team’s withdrawal from the event, scheduled to start tomorrow in Kitakyushu and run until Sunday (October 31).

Simona Dyankova, Madeleine Radukanova, Stefani Kiryakova, Erika Zafirova and Traets, who won Olympic all-around gold at the Tokyo 2020 Games, had been due to line up at the World Championships.

But Traets sustained an injury in training, resulting in the entire team opting to withdraw from the tournament.

"Yesterday our team had two training [sessions]," a statement from the BRGF.

"After the second Laura Traets felt a strong and sharp pain.

"We immediately consulted the team's doctor, who considered that Laura had a serious injury and her participation was impossible.

"All the girls are terribly sorry, but health is above all and this is the only correct decision at this stage."

Bulgaria’s absence is another blow to organisers after the Israeli team, featuring Olympic gold medallist Linoy Ashram, announced last month they would not be travelling to Japan.

Without the presence of Bulgaria and Israel, Russia will fancy their chances of enjoying another successful World Championships.

Russia won eight of the nine gold medals on offer in Azerbaijan capital Baku two years ago.

Dina Averina will make history if she achieves a fourth consecutive world title in the individual all-around competition ©Getty Images
Dina Averina will make history if she achieves a fourth consecutive world title in the individual all-around competition ©Getty Images

Olympic silver medallist Dina Averina, who bagged five of those golds in 2019, has the chance to make history in Kitakyushu by becoming the first gymnast to win four successive world titles.

The 23-year-old is set to face competition from her twin sister, Arina Averina, in the individual all-around competition.

Other strong challenges are expected to come from Olympic bronze medallist Alina Harnasko of Belarus, compatriot Anastasiia Salos, Italian Milena Baldassarri and Ukrainians Viktoriia Onopriienko and Khrystyna Pohranychna.

They are all set to battle it out for a share of the five sets of medals up for grabs in the all-around, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon competitions.

An additional three titles in all-around, 5 balls and 3 hoops 2 pairs of clubs will be at stake in the group finals where Russia are likely to dominate.

Italy, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Japan - the reigning world champions in 5 balls - will also be hoping to be in the mix for top honours.

The team ranking will be established based on scores from both the individual and group competitions.

Kitakyushu is staging the event after playing host to this month’s Artistic Gymnastics World Championships.

"Japan has twice had the pleasure of hosting the World Championships, and we are very proud to present the Aeon Cup each year," said Norifumi Yamamoto, President of the Local Organising Committee.

"Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we have not been able to show much during the past two years.

"I am so happy that fans will finally be able to see many great performances at these World Championships."

Action is due to start tomorrow with the finals of the individual hoop and ball competitions.