Japan’s Ryo Kiyuna continues to lead the men’s kata rankings ©WKF

Japan’s Ryo Kiyuna and Spain’s Sandra Sánchez continue to lead the men’s and women’s kata rankings, following the World Karate Federation’s qualification standings update ahead of the sport’s Olympic Games debut at Tokyo 2020.

After triumphing at last month's Asian Karate Federation (AKF) Senior Championships in Uzbekistan's capital Tashkent, three-time world champion Kiyuna heads the men's kata rankings with a 532.5-points difference to Spain’s Damián Quintero. 

Turkey's Ali Sofuoğlu, Venezuela's Antonio Díaz and Italy's Mattia Busato hold the other qualifying spots. 

Women's world champion Sánchez has an advantage of 960 points over Japan’s Kiyou Shimizu, who triumphed at the AKF Senior Championships, in the women's kata rankings.

Italy’s Viviana Bottaro, Hong Kong's Mo Sheung Grace Lau and American Sakura Kokumai occupy the rest of the qualifying spots.

Only 67.5 points separate the two top contenders in the men's kumite under-67 kilograms category. 

Kazakhstan's Darkhan Assadilov, who failed to make the podium at the AKF Senior Championships, leads the way, with France’s Steven Da Costa second.

Italy's Angelo Crescenzo and Egypt's Ali Elsawy are also in qualifying spots, while Hiroto Shinohara has the place for the 2020 Olympic Games host nation Japan.

One of the most dominant competitors in the sport, Turkey's Serap Özçelik, remains on top of the women's kumite under-55kg rankings.

She has a comfortable 2,070-point lead over second-placed Anzhelika Terliuga of Ukraine. 

Austria's Bettina Plank, Japan's Miho Miyahara and Chinese Taipei's Wen Tzu-yun make up the other qualification places.

Turkey's Serap Özçelik remains on top of the women's kumite under-55kg rankings ©WKF
Turkey's Serap Özçelik remains on top of the women's kumite under-55kg rankings ©WKF

After claiming medals at the AKF Senior Championships, Iran's Bahman Asgari Ghoncheh and Japan's Ken Nishimura hold the highest two places in men's kumite under-75kg.

Asgari Ghoncheh, the current world champion, won a bronze medal in Tashkent and heads the division with a 345-point lead over Nishimura, who prevailed at the continental event. 

The rest of the top positions are taken by Italy's Luigi Busa, Azerbaijan's Rafael Aghayev and the American Thomas Scott.

The women's kumite under-61kg category shows small variations from the last update and China’s Xiaoyan Yin remains in first place with 5,715 points.

Yin is in spectacular form this season and claimed victory at the AKF Seniors Championship. 

Egypt’s Giana Lotfy is second, having prevailed at the African Karate Federation Senior Championships in Botswana's capital Gaborone in July.

Turkey’s Uğur Aktaş is on top in the men's kumite over-75kg rankings with a 1,260-point difference over second-placed Iranian Sajad Ganjzadeh, who finished the AKF Seniors Championship with an over-84kg bronze medal.

With barely 1,000 points separating the top four places, the quest for qualification in the women's kumite over-61kg division is wide open. 

Switzerland's Elena Quirici is the leader with a 742.5-point advantage over Azerbaijan's Irina Zaretska.