Host Japan off to winning start at Asian Winter Games

Japan's Mari Motohashi, right, and Yurika Yoshida sweep the ice during a round-robin Curling game against Qatar at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, northern Japan, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
Japan's players, white jersey, celebrate after scoring a goal as Kazakhstan's goalie Darya Dmitriyeva, left, reacts during the women's tournament round robin ice hockey match at the Asian Winter Games at Tsukisamu Gymnasium in Sapporo, northern Japan, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Japan's players celebrate after defeating Kazakhstan during the women's tournament round robin ice hockey match at the 8th of the Asian Winter Games at Tsukisamu Gymnasium in Sapporo, northern Japan, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Japan's Haruna Yoneyama takes the puck down the ice during the women's tournament round robin ice hockey match against Kazakhstan at the Asian Winter Games at Tsukisamu Gymnasium in Sapporo, northern Japan, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Japan's Chinami Yoshida, left, Mari Motohashi, second left, Yurika Yoshida, right, and Satsuki Fujisawa celebrates during a round-robin Curling game against Japan at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, northern Japan, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
Japan's Yurie Adachi, left, and Kazakhstan's Galiya Nurgaliyeva, right, battle for the puck during the women's tournament round robin ice hockey match at the Asian Winter Games at Tsukisamu Gymnasium in Sapporo, northern Japan, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Japan's Tomomi Iwahara, right, to get through Kazakhstan's Galiya Nurgaliyeva, left, and goalie Darya Dmitriyeva during the women's tournament round robin ice hockey match between Kazakhstan and Japan at the 8th of the Asian Winter Games at Tsukisamu Gymnasium in Sapporo, northern Japan, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Japan's Hanae Kubo tries to get through Kazakhstan's defense during the women's tournament round robin ice hockey match at the Asian Winter Games at Tsukisamu Gymnasium in Sapporo, northern Japan, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Japan's Tetsuro Shimizu, right, and Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi sweep the ice as they play Taiwan during a round-robin Curling game at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, northern Japan, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
Japan's Yoshino Enomoto, white jersey, tries to get through Kazakhstan's Olga Konysheva (16) and goalie Darya Dmitriyeva, left, during the women's tournament round robin ice hockey match at the Asian Winter Games at Tsukisamu Gymnasium in Sapporo, northern Japan, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

SAPPORO, Japan — Japan overpowered defending champion Kazakhstan 6-0 in women's ice hockey on Saturday, the first day of competition at the Asian Winter Games.

More than 2,000 athletes from 31 countries are competing in five sports, 11 disciplines and 64 events in Sapporo on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido.

On Friday, the first contingent of North Korean athletes and officials arrived for the games, after receiving visas as an exception to Japan's ongoing entry ban on North Korean citizens.

Fresh from qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Japan faced little resistance in its opening game. Ami Nakamura and captain Chiho Osawa scored two goals each.

South Korea destroyed Thailand 20-0, while China thrashed Hong Kong by the same score, in other games in the women's ice hockey tournament.

Hong Kong trounced Singapore 12-1 in men's ice hockey.

Also, Japan beat Taiwan 11-3 in men's curling while the Japanese women beat Qatar 17-1 after eight ends. China beat Kazakhstan 20-2 in the other women's match.

The opening ceremony will be held on Sunday at Sapporo Dome.

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