The 2019 ISU World Figure Skating Championships kick off on Wednesday, with some of the top names in the sport set to compete in Saitama, Japan.

The highlight of the tournament looks to be in the men's event, where Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu will come up against current world champion Nathan Chen.

There will be a new champion in the women's competition, as Canada's title holder Kaetlyn Osmond has opted to sit out the entire season.

Olympic champion Alina Zagitova will be aiming to improve on last season's fifth-place finish, while Japan's Rika Kihira and two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva are also in contention.

Here's a look at the schedule, full details are available from the tournament's official website.

Wednesday, March 20

Pairs Short Programme 

Opening Ceremony

Ladies Short Programme

       

Thursday, March 21

Pairs Free Skating

Men Short Programme

     

Friday, March 22

Ice Dance Rhythm Dance 

Ladies Free Skating

     

Saturday, March 23

Ice Dance Free Dance 

Men Free Skating

     

Sunday, March 24

Gala Exhibition

    

In the United States the event will be television on on NBC and NBCSN. A live stream is available through NBCSports.com/live

Preview

Japan's Hanyu will be aiming for his third world title in Saitama, but there are doubts over his fitness heading into the tournament.

The 24-year-old skipped practice on Monday amid fears he is still struggling with an ankle injury picked up at November's Rostelecom Cup, per the Olympic Channel.

Hanyu has not competed since then, but he also struggled with a similar problem before the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and went on to take gold:

He will face stiff competition from Chen, a Yale University freshman, who won his third straight national men's singles title in Detroit in January:

The 19-year-old will be aiming to defend his title and has had to overcome illness during his preparation that forced him to amend his training plans.

"I got a little bit sick so I decided to recover (in New Haven) and make sure I didn’t get any of the other athletes sick," he said, per Reuters (h/t Eurosport). "The entire college got sick, so it was inevitable. I’ve been training well for worlds. I’m looking forward to competition."

Japan's Shoma Uno is also one to watch in the men's event. The 21-year-old produced a flawless free skate to win the Four Continents Championships in Anaheim, California in February.

It's the biggest win of his career so far, although his silver medal in Pyeongchang shows he can thrive on the big stage:

The competition looks far more open in the women's event, where Zagitova will be out to make amends for her 2018 showing. The teenager finished fifth after falling three times in her free skate.

The 16-year-old will face competition from rising Japanese star Rika Kihira, who will be looking for her first world title. 

Kihira will be confident after victories at the Four Continents and the Grand Prix Final:

She has talked confidently about her chances in the tournament but has explained that nerves could be a factor, per Sean Miyaguchi at Kyodo News.

"It's my first world championships, and it's at such a big arena, so I might feel a little nervous. (But) I'm not really thinking about the pressure, I'm just focusing on what I have to do.

"I think I have a chance of winning the championship if I perform the short program and the free routine well, so I just want to think about doing a performance with no mistakes."

Medvedeva is also likely to be in contention and has momentum after victory in the Russian Cup in February. The 19-year-old has struggled this season but knows exactly what it takes to win this title and can't be discounted.