Hideki Matsui, Sadaharu Oh serve as Olympic torch bearers at opening ceremony

Naomi Osaka, who is representing Japan in the 2020 Olympics, took the torch up the stairs and lit the Olympic cauldron to signify the official start of the Games.

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Baseball is the No. 1 sport in Japan so it was fitting for the three greats of the sport to contribute to the ceremony. Osaka is arguably the best athlete representing the country. She will return from a mental-health hiatus to partake in the Games.

Additionally, baseball returns to the Olympics after a 13-year hiatus. Japan is one of the six nations that will be competing in the event.

Japan is in Group A and their schedule begins July 28. They will play the Dominican Republic first and then Mexico. Group B is made up of Israel, South Korea and the United States.

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Out of the three greats, Matsui is the only one who made it across to play in Major League Baseball. Matsui played in MLB from 2003 to 2012. He won a World Series with the New York Yankees in 2009.

Oh is considered to be the Babe Ruth of Japan – long before Shohei Ohtani made his impression in the U.S. He’s said to have hit 868 home runs during his career in Nippon Professional Baseball.

Nagashima was an 11-time champion with the Yomiuri Giants. He hit 444 career home runs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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