Mikako Kotani is the new sports director for Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

Two-time Olympic artistic swimming bronze medallist Mikako Kotani has been appointed as the new sports director for Tokyo 2020.

Kotani, who also won one silver and four bronze medals at two World Championships in 1986 and 1991, will take up her new role as of tomorrow.

She replaces Olympic hammer throw gold medallist Koji Murofushi who has been appointed as commissioner of the Japan Sports Agency.

"As sports director, I am very honoured and humbled to be able to support the Olympic and Paralympic Games from a sporting perspective and from the perspective of an Olympian," said Kotani, who won both of her Olympic medals at Seoul 1988.

"We will work hard to overcome this unprecedented challenge the world is facing, and help athletes perform to their best in a new kind of the Games.

"By further deepening communication with athletes as well as the understanding and friendship with International Federations (IFs) that sports director Murofushi has built, I will do my best to contribute to the success of these historic Games."

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed to 2021 due to the threat of COVID-19 ©Getty Images
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed to 2021 due to the threat of COVID-19 ©Getty Images

Kotani's role will involve liaising with athletes in the overall management of the Games.

The 54-year-old will coordinate with the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, IFs and national sporting governing bodies.

Born in Setagaya in Tokyo, Kotani was the national champion in solo artistic swimming for four years in a row from 1987 to 1990.

She managed the same in duet from 1985 to 1988 – before winning her bronze medals in the two events at the Seoul Games.

At the 1985 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, Kotani captured the first of two duet titles in her home city, which she defended in Brisbane two years later.

After achieving her best duet performance at a World Championships in 1991 in Perth in Australia, when she won silver, Kotani retired in 1992 at the age of 26.

Her past administrative roles include being an Executive Board member for the Japanese Olympic Committee, as well as a member of its Athletes' Commission and Women's Sport Commission.

Kotani has also been an Executive Committee member of the World Olympians Association, the director of the Olympians Association of Japan and an ambassador for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Bid Committee.

At the Seoul Olympics, she was the first female Japanese flag bearer.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are currently scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8 next year, having been pushed back to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They are due to be followed by the Paralympics between August 24 and September 5.