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Ohtani, Osaka headline TIME's 100 most influential people of 2021

Naomi Osaka attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating the opening of the "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion" exhibition on Sept. 13, 2021, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

NEW YORK (Kyodo) -- Three Japanese were named in TIME Magazine's list of "100 Most Influential People of 2021" which categorizes people judged to have had the most impact this year into icons, pioneers, titans, artists, leaders, and innovators.

    Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani stretches his left shoulder after taking a swing at a pitch from Chicago White Sox's Lucas Giolito during the first inning of a baseball game on Sept. 14, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

    Athletes Shohei Ohtani and Naomi Osaka were named "Icons" along with Prince Harry and his wife Meghan who are showcased on one of the magazine's seven worldwide covers. Architect Kengo Kuma, who designed the centerpiece stadium for the Tokyo Olympics, is listed under "Innovators."

    Other prominent names featured on the unranked list, revealed Wednesday, are U.S. President Joe Biden, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, singer-songwriter Billie Eilish and Britney Spears, as well as billionaire Jensen Huang, who cofounded graphics-chip maker Nvidia.

    "Shohei Ohtani is just the second baseball player to ever be selected to TIME Magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world," tweeted Los Angeles Angels Communications Manager Matt Birch.

    According to Birch, Taiwan's Wang Chien-ming in 2007, then a pitcher for the New York Yankees, is the other player. He also said Ichiro Suzuki was a finalist in 2008 but did not make the final list that year.

    The blurb on Ohtani, the Angels' two-way sensation and one of the front-runners for American League MVP, was written by former MLB star-turned ESPN on-air talent Alex Rodriguez.

    "If you were to Frankenstein every unique talent into one player, you'd get Shohei Ohtani. He has the power of Bryce Harper, the pitching of Max Scherzer and the speed of Trea Turner," Rodriguez said, highlighting Ohtani's talent across every facet of the game.

    The note on tennis star Osaka, who made the list for the third year in a row, was written by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

    "Naomi Osaka's humility and dedication to others has been spectacular to watch. It's incredibly meaningful that she has been able to talk honestly about struggling with her mental health and share with us her vulnerability," Wilson wrote.

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