The 2019 International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) World Cup Final is set to take place over the coming four days with 72 competitors eager to secure Olympic qualification by winning gold in an event that doubles as an official test event for Tokyo 2020.
Headlining the glittering array of talent that will be on show at the AGF Field, within the Tokyo Stadium complex in Musashino Forest, are two Olympic champions - Lithuania’s Laura Asadauskaitė and Russia’s Aleksander Lesun - and nine individual world champions.
Several of the breakthrough stars of the 2019 season will also be in Tokyo, including first-time UIPM World Cup gold medallists Marie Oteiza of France and Uliana Batashova of Russia as well as Egypt’s Ahmed Elgendy and Mexico’s Manuel Padilla.
A total of 14 of the 15 top-ranked women will be on the start line, led by Oteiza and Hungary’s Sarolta Kovács, with world champion Anastasiya Prokopenko of Belarus another name to watch.
On the men’s side, all 11 of the top-ranked athletes will be competing, led by France’s Valentin Prades and Czech Republic’s Jan Kuf.
Great Britain will expect to mount a strong challenge with the in-form Kate French and Joe Choong competing together with the reigning men’s world champion Jamie Cooke.
Germany look formidable with Annika Schleu and Marvin Dogue, competing alongside his older brother Patrick, while Russia can have high hopes of success with Gulnaz Gubaydullina teaming up with Batashova and Lesun.
Also of interest will be strength of the Asian challenge on home soil, with 13 of the 72 competing athletes coming from the host continent, including five from Japan.
South Korea’s Jung Jin-Hwa is the reigning men’s champion and much will be expected of him and his team-mate Jun Woongtae after a quiet season.
Besides the absence of the injured Rio 2016 Olympic women’s champion, Chloe Esposito of Australia, there are very few of the sport’s leading lights missing from the field.
A group of 18 nations have registered for the mixed relay, with Japan providing a second team to bring the anticipated entry to 19.
"After an intriguing Pentathlon World Cup season, we come to the Final in Tokyo with great expectations for three days of thrilling competition across the men’s and women’s finals and mixed relay," Janusz Peciak, Poland's UIPM Executive Board member for sport and 1976 Olympic champion, said.
"It promises to be a thrilling climax to the season with so many of the top-ranked athletes taking part, and many of them will know they have a realistic chance of securing qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games."
Tokyo 2020 test events for sailing and water polo were held in the Japanese capital but this competition marks the first of 33 to take place before the end of the year.
"There is a great deal of excitement across our global pentathlon community as we anticipate the UIPM 2019 Pentathlon World Cup Final and official Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games test event in the capital city of Japan," UIPM President Klaus Schormann said.
"I congratulate all of the 72 athletes who have reached this destination after four rounds of high quality and very tough competition in Cairo, Sofia, Székesfehérvár and Prague, and wish them every success in the World Cup Final."
The winners of the women’s individual and men’s individual events, decided on Friday (June 28) and Saturday (June 29) respectively, will earn automatic qualification for Tokyo 2020.
They will join the African champions on the list for next year's Olympics after Egyptians Haydy Morsy and Sherif Nazeir became the first pentathletes to qualify earlier this year.
More athletes will continue to secure their places at the continental qualifiers and the UIPM World Championships in the coming months.