Japan officially unveiled its team for the eighth Asian Winter Games on Thursday during a ceremony, with Japanese Olympic Committee president Tsunekazu Takeda imploring the athletes to boost their nation along its journey to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"The Asian Winter Games were first competed in 1986 in Sapporo and the importance of the event has grown and grown," Takeda said in his opening remarks ahead of the games that will officially open on Sunday and run through Feb. 26.

"At this event, the third to be held in Sapporo, a record 32 national Olympic committees are taking part, and the level of the competition has become high.