Japan claimed a shock team fencing gold to move to an Olympic record medal haul ©Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 is guaranteed to be Japan's most successful Olympic Games after the host nation clinched their first fencing gold medal in the men's team épée event here.

The surprise victory for Masaru Yamada, Koki Kano and Satoru Uyama, who beat the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team in the final, moved Japan to a record Olympic gold medal haul of 17.

The total surpasses Japan's previous best of 16, set at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo and equalled in Athens in 2004.

Yamada, Kano and Uyama made history by defeating the ROC trio of Sergey Bida, Nikita Glazkov and Pavel Sukhov 45-36 at the Makuhari Messe.

Japan had previously won two silver medals in fencing at the Olympics - Yuki Ota in the individual men's foil at Beijing 2008, and in the team foil competition at London 2012.

"I wish we had the spectators here of course to share this victory with us, but unfortunately they couldn't," said Kano.

"This Olympics is for the supporters and we are very happy we played the game and won."

Japan stunned the ROC in the final to secure an historic Olympic fencing gold medal ©Getty Images
Japan stunned the ROC in the final to secure an historic Olympic fencing gold medal ©Getty Images

The hosts were one of the two bottom-ranked nations in the team épée and had to fence off against the United States in a preliminary match to gain entry to the competition proper.

A string of upsets led to a semi-final meeting with South Korea, where the Japanese trio prevailed 45-38.

The ROC ousted China 45-38 to reach the gold medal match, but they came up against a resilient and determined Japanese time that rode the wave of the nation's success so far at Tokyo 2020.

South Korea beat China 45-42 to secure the bronze medal.

The triumph for Yamada, Koki Kano and Satoru Uyama continues Japan's superb start to their home Games, which has helped rejuvenate a population that had been sceptical about the Olympics going ahead during a pandemic.

Concerns are on the rise again, however, after Tokyo and Japan reported record numbers of daily COVID-19 cases this week.