Tokio 2020. ©

One spot for the men's category and another for the women's category are at stake in the Asia Rugby qualifying tournament that kicks off this weekend in Osaka. 

The men's competition is divided into two groups: Group A with Japan, China, Korea, India, and Hong Kong (China), and Group B with the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Thailand. In the women's side, Japan, Thailand, and Kazakhstan are in Group D, while China, Hong Kong China, India, and Guam are in Group E.

The winners of both categories will secure a place at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, leaving only one spot to be contested among the twelve remaining teams. There will be a new opportunity for those who finish as runners-up and third in the Asia Rugby tournament, as they can still qualify through the Olympic Qualification Final Tournament in 2024.

Among the teams starting their journey in Osaka, Japan participated in the last two Olympics. The men's team lost to Fiji in Rio 2016 and did not advance beyond the qualifiers in Tokyo, where they were the hosts of the Games.

For Taisei Hayasi, a native of Osaka and the men's captain, the tournament being played in his hometown is even more special. "This is my seventh season with the team, and this is the first official tournament we play in our country. So, I am happy to be able to showcase our game to our people this time," said the player. They are currently bronze medalists in the Asian Games and hope to qualify for the Olympic Games.

The Sakura Sevens are champions of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series but missed the gold medal in the Asian Games against China.

The men's tournament kicks off with a match between China and Korea, while Japan and India face each other in the next game. So far, ten teams in each gender have confirmed their participation in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

The men's teams that have already qualified for Paris 2024 are France, New Zealand, Argentina, Fiji, Australia, Uruguay, Ireland, the United States, Kenya, and Samoa.

On the women's side, Brazil, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa and, more recently, Fiji, are already qualified for Paris 2024. Now it's the turn of Asia's top national teams to  try and make it to Paris.