The International Skating Union decided Tuesday to gradually raise the minimum age for figure skaters at senior competitions from 15 to 17, leaving 13-year-old Japanese gem Mao Shimada ineligible to compete in the 2026 Milano Cortina Winter Games.

The ISU Congress held in Phuket, Thailand, voted in favor of the change, with the body tweeting it is "for the sake of protecting the physical and mental health, and emotional well-being of skaters."

Shimada won the national junior championship last year and has attracted attention after already landing a quad jump.

Mao Shimada performs during an ice show on April 23, 2022 in Kyoto Prefecture, western Japan. (Kyodo)

The ISU said the age limit will remain at 15 for the 2022-2023 season before being raised to 16 for 2023-2024 and 17 for 2024-2025 and onward.

Kamila Valieva of Russia tested positive for a banned substance when she was 15 during February's Beijing Olympics, leading to a renewed discussion on protecting minors.

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