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The 2002 World Cup had limited effect on boosting the popularity of soccer in baseball-mad Japan, according to a survey by Japan’s largest newspaper.

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported that 57 percent of those polled said baseball was the sport they were most interested in watching.

The nationwide survey included all age groups and was conducted in late February. Of the 3,000 people surveyed, 1,862, or 62.1 percent, responded.

Baseball was followed by marathons with 37 percent, ekiden road relays with 35 percent and the high school baseball championships with 34 percent.

Sumo and professional soccer were cited by only 28 percent of respondents. Meanwhile, New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui was listed as the most popular sports figure followed by Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and Yomiuri Giants first baseman Kazuhiro Kiyohara.

Soccer star Hidetoshi Nakata, who plays for Parma in Italian Serie A, was a distant fifth behind marathon runner Naoko Takahashi.

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