New Japanese major leaguer Shohei Ohtani became the nation’s favorite athlete this year, a recent survey showed.
Ohtani, a pitcher and designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels, topped the poll with 21.7 percent of the votes, replacing veteran MLB star Ichiro Suzuki, who received 11.1 percent, according to the survey by Central Research Services Inc.
The Seattle Mariners outfielder dropped to second place in the rankings after topping the survey for two years in a row.
Figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu, the two-time Olympic champion, came in third with 11 percent of the votes.
The survey, conducted through face-to-face interviews between April 6 and 15, covered people 20 or older across Japan. Of the 4,000 people surveyed, 1,207 gave valid responses.
On other topics, the survey found that 43.4 percent of the respondents are interested in this year’s FIFA soccer World Cup finals in Russia, down 8.4 points from the previous World Cup four years ago.
Those who expect Japan to advance to the round of 16 in this year’s finals came to 55.8 percent.
As for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea in February, 29.9 percent said figure skating was the sport that impressed them most, followed by speed skating (22.7 percent) and curling (17.5 percent).
Swimming was cited as the sport respondents most looked forward to watching at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, followed by gymnastics and track and field.
Baseball and softball, which will be part of the quadrennial games for the first time in 12 years, ranked fourth.