Japan's Tokyo Olympic team will comprise a record 582 athletes, with basketball player Rui Hachimura and wrestling gold medal hopeful Yui Susaki named as flagbearers, the country's Olympic committee said Monday.
The number is far bigger than the previous record of 355 athletes picked for the Japanese team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and 244 more than the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The 23-year-old Hachimura and 22-year-old Susaki will lead the delegation into the National Stadium during the opening ceremony on July 23, to be held following a one-year postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"The Tokyo Olympics are a stage that I have dreamed of for a long time. It is a huge honor to be given such a big role," Hachimura, who plays for the NBA's Washington Wizards, said in a comment released by the Japanese Olympic Committee.
Susaki, who won back-to-back world championship in 2017 and 2018, said she appreciates being able to compete and serve as Japan's flagbearer during these difficult times of the global health crisis.
The International Olympic Committee has asked for a male and female flagbearer from each participating country and region in the interest of gender equality.
Hachimura, whose mother is Japanese and father is Beninese, is the first basketball player to be named Japan's flagbearer for the Olympics. He became the first Japanese player to be picked in the first round of the NBA draft in June 2019 after starring for Gonzaga University.
The JOC said last week that sprinter Ryota Yamagata, who holds the Japanese national record in the men's 100 meters, will captain the delegation. He is expected to swear the Olympic oath during the opening ceremony with women's table tennis player Kasumi Ishikawa, vice captain of the team.
The Japanese delegation will hold an inauguration ceremony on Tuesday.
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