• Kyodo

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Speedskater Nao Kodaira and ski jumper Sara Takanashi on Wednesday joined a group of Japanese athletes for an inauguration ceremony ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Kodaira, who has been appointed team captain, and Takanashi, who acted as the flag-bearer for the day, fulfilled their non-athletic duties as Japanese Olympic Committee president Tsunekazu Takeda delivered the opening remarks at the ceremony held in Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.

“I hope you develop awareness, responsibility and pride as members of Team Nippon, and train to get in top form and compete fairly and at full strength,” Takeda said.

After a motivating farewell rally, Kodaira said she felt full of courage. “It’s a little early, but I was moved to tears,” she said.

The JOC has set a target of nine medals, including several gold, and hope to surpass the eight medals Japan captured at the 2014 Sochi Games. Japan expects to send 123 athletes to Pyeongchang, the nation’s most for any overseas Winter Olympics.

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