TOKYO (AFP) - A senior Japanese Olympic official has called on the host country's athletes to win a national-record 30 gold medals at the 2020 Summer Games, local media reported on Friday.
Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) sports committee chairman Yasuhiro Yamashita backed home-grown competitors to more than double their haul of 12 golds at last year's Rio Olympics, where Japan finished sixth in the medal table.
"I reckon we can aim to get 2.5 times the amount we did in Rio," the former Olympic judo champion told local media, pointing to Japan's recent success in gymnastics, table tennis and badminton.
"That's just my personal opinion, not that of the technical committee," added the 60-year-old Yamashita, who was Japan's deputy chef de mission in Brazil. "We will collect the relevant data and decide (the official target) hopefully by next summer."
Yamashita, who won judo gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, also raised the hope that the host nation's track athletes could deliver a surprise after a Japanese sprinter, Yoshihide Kiryu, finally broke the 10-second barrier last month after years of trying.
Japan's previous best effort in terms of gold medals was as host of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and at the 2004 Athens Games, when they won 16.
Thirty golds would have put them above second-placed Britain's 27 in Rio, but still a long way behind the table-topping United States, who captured 46.
Yamashita was also bullish about Japan's chances at next year's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, predicting nine medals overall.
The country's previous best haul at a Winter Games was five gold medals and 10 in total as host of the Nagano Olympics in 1998.