Japan names captain and vice-captain of national team for Tokyo 2020

Sprinter YAMAGATA Ryota will lead Japan's national team at a home Olympic Games with table tennis star ISHIKAWA Kasumi appointed to the newly-created role of vice-captain.

Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Sprinter YAMAGATA Ryota has been named as the captain of Japan’s team at the Olympic Games with table tennis player ISHIKAWA Kasumi as vice-captain, the Japanese Olympic Committee have announced.

It will be the third Olympics for both Yamagata and Ishikawa, who will head up the national squad of some 600 athletes.

The 29-year-old captain booked his ticket to the Games when he set a national record in the men’s 100m at the national championships in June. He won silver in the men’s 4x100m relay at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

READ MORE: Yamagata breaks national record in 100m

Speaking after the announcement, he said: “I was appointed the captain of the Japanese national team for the Olympic Games held in my country, and I feel a great responsibility. 

“It is a very difficult situation, but I don't think we'll change what we have to do. [With] the pride of the Hinomaru [the national flag] in my heart, I will comply with the rules and deliver positive news to the people as part of the Japanese national team. I would like to do my best.”

Table tennis star Ishikawa won a silver medal at London 2012 Olympic Games and bronze in Rio 2016. The 28-year-old was crowned world champion in the mixed doubles in 2017.

The role of vice-captain has been specially created for the Games, which will be held from 23 July to 8 August. The JOC said the role was to promote the spirit of gender equality – to have a man and a woman lead the national team.

Ishikawa said she felt honoured to have been appointed vice-captain. “It is a great honour for me to take on the heavy responsibility of the vice-captain of the Japan national team.

“For all the participating athletes [from Japan], this Tokyo Olympics is a special event to be held at home. I think the athletes have made the utmost preparations up to this point, despite the various restrictions. And while feeling the gratitude for standing on this stage, by making the best effort during competitions so as many members of the general public can feel positive. I will be grateful if you could support or cheer the Japan national team.”

Kasumi Ishikawa and Maharu Yoshimura
Picture by 2018 Getty Images