Tanaka headlines Japan's Olympic team: We 'will win gold medal'
Tanaka, who joined Japan's Rakuten Golden Eagles in January after a seven-year stint in the majors, acknowledged the national team has lofty expectations.
"Despite the unforeseen postponement of the Games by one year, my goal is to win the gold medal. That will not change. We have chosen 24 people to make that happen. This is the team that will win the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics," Tanaka said.
"I am very honored to have been chosen to represent Japan. I am very honored to be selected as a member of the Japanese national team, and I am happy to be able to fight with the Japanese flag on my back again."
Tanaka posted a 78-46 record with a 3.74 ERA and 991 strikeouts across 1,054 1/3 innings with New York. He finished seventh in AL Cy Young voting in 2016 and made the All-Star team in 2019.
The 32-year-old admitted after leaving the Yankees that his preference was to stay, but the feeling wasn't mutual. He owns a 2.90 ERA with 47 strikeouts over 59 innings with the Golden Eagles in 2021.
Tanaka will be joined by Japanese star Tomoyuki Sugano, who plays for Nippon Professional Baseball's Yomiuri Giants after failing to land an MLB deal last offseason.