The Olympic gold medal-winning Japanese baseball squad was named the Best Male Team of the Tokyo Games during an awards ceremony on Sunday that was part of the ANOC General Assembly held on the Greek island of Crete.

Samurai Japan beat the United States for gold at the pandemic-delayed games this summer, the country’s first Olympic gold in baseball since the sport was officially included on the program at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

“We will dedicate ourselves to promoting the sport so that baseball, along with softball, will be re-added to the Olympic program. Thank you so much for this (award),” Yomiuri Giants infielder Hayato Sakamoto said on behalf of the team in a video message delivered to the Association of National Olympic Committees.

Japan, led by manager Atsunori Inaba, won all five of its matches at its home Olympics, capped by a win in the final on Aug. 7

Many new sports made their debut during Tokyo 2020.

Skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing and karate were contested for the first time, while softball and baseball returned to the Games for the first time since 2008.

With the Tokyo Olympics delayed for a year by the pandemic, the next summer Games are now less than three years away.

Karate, baseball and softball will be dropped from the Paris Games, while youth-centered sports like surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing will stay. Breaking, a street-style dance discipline, will be added for the event in the French capital.

Marathon gold medalist Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya won Best Male Athlete after defending his title at the Tokyo Olympics, while Maggie MacNeil, who won three swimming medals, including Canada’s first gold in Tokyo, was named Best Female Athlete.

Other awards included Outstanding NOC of Tokyo 2020, which given to the Japanese Olympic Committee.

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