The 2020 Friendship and Solidarity Meet was held in Tokyo, Japan on November 8. This meet is significant in 2020, as it is the first international meet that has been held since the COVID-19 shutdowns. Of course, Tokyo is slated to host the rescheduled Olympic Games in summer 2021. This meet served as a warm-up event, and allowed gymnasts, coaches, judges, and meet organizers to get a feel for hosting a meet with COVID-19 restrictions.

Some of the COVID-19 procedures used at this meet included daily testing, mask wearing, limited spectators, and individual chalk brought by the athlete. These procedures are going to be commonplace for a while at least!

Structure of the Friendship and Solidarity Meet

The Friendship and Solidarity Meet featured gymnasts from four countries: Japan, China, Russia, and the U.S. The athletes were placed on one of two mixed teams: Team Friendship and Team Solidarity. The teams consisted of the following athletes:

Team Friendship:

  • Jieya Liu (CHN)
  • Ruiyu Zhou (CHN)
  • Asuka Teramoto (JPN)
  • Hitomi Hatakeda (JPN)
  • Iana Vorona (RUS)
  • Angelina Melnikova (RUS)
  • Sophia Butler (USA)
  • Boheng Zhang (CHN)
  • Shi Cong (CHN)
  • Kazuma Kaya (JPN)
  • Yuya Komoto (JPN)
  • Artur Dalaloyan (RUS)
  • Alexey Rostov (RUS)
  • Yul Moldauer (USA)

Team Solidarity:

  • Yufei Liu (CHN)
  • Jin Zhang (CHN)
  • Akari Matsumura (JPN)
  • Chiaki Hatakeda (JPN)
  • Elena Gerasimova (RUS)
  • Aleksandra Shchekoldina (RUS)
  • eMjae Frazier (USA)
  • Shilese Jones (USA)
  • Ma Yue (CHN)
  • Yin Dehang (CHN)
  • Kohei Uchimura (JPN)
  • Wataru Tanigawa (JPN)
  • Nikita Nigornyy (RUS)
  • Dmitrii Lankin (RUS)
  • Paul Juda (USA)

The top three men’s scores and the top three women’s scores on each event counted toward the team total.

Now, let’s take a look at how the competition went! It was broadcast on the Olympic Channel, and here is a synopsis of the routines that were shown.

Rotation 1

Kohei started off on vault with a clean 2 ½ twisting Yurchenko for a 14.5. Dalaloyan also got a 14.5 for a solid rings routine for Russia, scoring a . Tanigawa scored a 14.0 after sitting down his handspring double front pike on vault. Angelina Melnikova was first on bars with her difficult release combinations and a stuck full-in for a 14.5. Why is everyone getting the same score? Funny!

Kazuma Kaya showed great control on rings and scored a 14.1. Yuya Kamoto was a little wobbly during his rings routine and landed low on his dismount, 14.2. Asuka Teramoto had several nice high release moves during her bar routine, though she didn’t combine them as Melnikova did (13.5). Jin Zhang had a nice beam routine with only one wobble, an easy BHS BHS double full dismount, and a 14.4. Nagornyy completed his handspring double front ½ but overrotated and had to take a couple of steps to stay on his feet (14.6).

Hitomi Hatakeda didn’t have quite the amplitude and form as some of the other gymnasts, with several leg separations and body position faults. She didn’t have a ton of difficulty, and scored a 13.9. Boheng Zhang stuck his double-double off rings for a 14.7. eMjae Frazier, in her first meet out of the country, had a few wobbles on beam and an unfortunate fall on a switch-ring leap (11.6). Lankin had a rather large step on his handspring front 2 ½ and earned a 14.6. Shilese Jones fell off beam on her Arabian, and she had to grab the beam with her hand after her aerial. Those mistakes brought her score down to a 12.4.

Rotation 2

Sophia Butler started on beam with a really cool aerial-Onodi series! Her leaps were severely lacking in split, to the point where I don’t know that she would even get credit for them (12.5). Matsumura did a simple floor routine with a double tuck, 2 ½ punch front, 1 ½-front full, and lots of turning elements, but everything was executed nicely for a 12.6. Kaya’s twisting vault was really incomplete, causing him to take a huge step off the mat (14.2).

Chiaki Hatakeda did a really nice triple full, all the way around, to start off her floor routine. It wasn’t particularly dynamic, though, and it scored a 13.0. Nagornyy went to p-bars and showed great handstand positions, scoring a 14.7. Teramoto fell off beam on her switch-1/2, but was solid elsewhere for a 12.2. Hitomi Hatakeda was solid on her beam routine that included a punch front combination and a nice double pike dismount (13.7).

Lankin moved to p-bars where he fell on a pirouetting skill, and had some steps on his hands as well (11.4). Iana Vorona from Russia did a cool connection of two jumps into a punch front, but fell on that combo for a 12.8. Tanigawa had a few form breaks during his p-bars routine but stuck a beautiful double front ½ dismount and scored a 14.8. Melnikova hit her beam routine solidly, including a full twisting back handspring, side somi, and a high double pike (14.1).

Rotation 3

Jieya Liu opened her floor routine with a triple full punch front – wow! The rest of the routine wasn’t overly difficult, though, although it was clean for a . Yuya Kamoto did a nice clean p-bar routine until he hit his foot on the bar on his double front ½ dismount. He was still able to land well, and scored a . Nagornyy hit his high flying releases on high bar and nailed his laid-out double-double, scoring. Kohei, who has declared his intent to become a high bar specialist, showed us exactly why. Double twisting Kovacs, laid out full twisting Kovacs, tucked full twisting Kovacs… wow! He earned a 15.2!

Tanigawa was next, hitting a nice high bar routine, although it did not seem as difficult, for a 14.4. Zhang vaulted a DTY with good form but not incredible amplitude. Shane Wiskus hit a nice p-bars set and earned a 14.0. Shilese Jones did her DTY with excellent form and height, scoring a 14.8. Dalaloyan was very aggressive on p-bars and hit some nice handstands. However, he did have a mistake, sitting briefly on the bar for a 12.9.

Akari Matsumura did a clean Yurchenko-full, but didn’t have the difficulty for a big score (13.4). Melnikova opened with a double layout-split jump and did a well-choreographed routine, but bounced out of bounds on her double pike dismount for a 13.4. Chiaki Hatakeda did a nice DTY with a big step, scoring 14.2. Sophia Butler did a powerful floor routine, opening with a double layout and finishing with a whip-double pike (12.4). Teramoto showed some nice twisting skills in her floor routine, but landing errors cost her a few tenths (13.2).

Rotation 4

Teramoto vaulted a handspring layout front ½, but buckled on the landing and had to take a few steps (13.7). Nagornyy did some incredible tumbling (I forgot how much I love watching men’s floor!). He had a couple of landing errors, but his skills were well done in the air (14.2). Lankin went next and was amazing! He did a triple back, quad twist, and tumbled out of a 3 ½!!! One step out of bounds cost him, though, and he ended up with a 14.1.

Kohei’s floor routine was not nearly as difficult, but he showed his trademark clean execution and scored a 13.5. Yufei had a few form breaks on her pirouettes, then fell on her piked Jaeger, scoring a 12.4. Tanigawa did a lot of twisting in his floor routine, but had some hops on his landings that brought his score to a 14.2. Moldauer did a high bar routine with an upgraded release (double twisting Kovacs) but unfortunately fell on it (12.1). Butler did a Yurchenko-full on vault, slightly piked, for a 13.5. Dalaloyan had a lot of big releases, but he also sustained a fall, missing a hand on a layout Tkatchev ½ (12.9).  

Shchekoldina did a nice Maloney-Gienger in between the bars, but she had a number of form breaks during the routine. Rostov fell on his layout Tkatchev as well, scoring a 13.0. Kazuma Kaya hit his high bar routine, finishing just a bit short on his dismount, but he was happy with his 14.3. Kamoto fell on a full twisting Kovacs, which was too bad because his routine was very impressive with a bunch of big releases (13.3). Gerasimova did some pretty in-bar work before falling on a Pak (12.9).

Rotation 5                                                          

In the 5th and 6th rotations, the women were finished, so it was just the men competing their last two events.

Kohei completed a solid pommel horse routine, scoring a 13.3. Rostov was consistent on floor, doing some great twisting skills and a double-double, but stepped out of bounds on his 2 ½ twist dismount (13.4). Tanigawa earned a 14.0 for his pommel horse routine. Kaya landed low on his double front, but the rest of his passes were very nicely done (14.1). Paul Juda from the USA performed a nice pommel horse routine with no major breaks, earning a 13.4. Nagornyy had some small form breaks on pommel horse, but completed his routine with a nice handstand dismount (14.2). Shi Cong went flying out of bounds on his first tumbling pass (13.3). Zhang Boheng was solid on floor for 14.3.

Rotation 6

Dalaloyan was next up on pommel horse, finishing a clean, aggressive routine for a 13.2. Ma Yiwei finished his competition on rings, with nice positions and a big dismount (14.4). Rostov had a couple small form breaks on pommel horse, but he finished strong and earned a . Yin did a clean rings routine for 13.4. Kaya did great traveling flairs and was thrilled with his routine, earning a 13.1. Nagornyy headed to rings, delivering a clean routine ending with a double-double (14.7). Juda had a little swing to the rings during his routine, but was able to bring it back under control for a 13.0. Lankin also had a little swing going, but he had a lot of difficulty in his routine and got a 14.5. Zhang Bojeng did a great, quick pommel horse routine. He had a little trouble getting into the handstand for his dismount, and earned a 13.8. Tanigawa was solid on rings, coming out of his swinging elements cleanly. He missed one handstand and scored a 13.9. Wiskus fell off pommel horse after getting off balance, scoring a 12.7.

Here’s a link to the full results from the meet.

Overall Impressions of the Friendship and Solidarity Meet

Gosh, it was so nice to see an actual gymnastics competition again! The format was a lot of fun, and allowed for gymnasts to compete as few or as many events as they wanted. It was the perfect meet to ease back into competition after the gymnasts had to take a Covid-19 training break. I wasn’t surprised that there were a lot of falls, since it was the first competition back for these gymnasts. I think this would be a fun format for a warm-up meet even in regular times!