The Tokyo 2020 organising committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games has today (Friday) announced that the International Olympic Committee Executive Board has approved the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium as an additional venue for baseball and softball events during the Japanese capital’s staging of the multi-sport showpiece.
It is hoped that staging events in the Fukushima Prefecture, one of the areas worst-hit by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster that devastated Japan, will help aid the recovery effort in the region.
It has not been confirmed which matches the stadium will host during the Games, although, according to the Reuters news agency, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said that “one match, probably the opening match, will go to Fukushima Stadium”. The 30,000-capacity stadium will be renovated to prepare it for the Games.
“By hosting Olympic baseball and softball events, Fukushima will have a great platform to show the world the extent of its recovery in the 10 years since the disaster,” Mori added. “It will also be a wonderful chance for us to show our gratitude towards those who assisted in the region’s reconstruction. And I’m sure the people of Fukushima are also looking forward very much to seeing Olympics events hosted there.”
World Baseball Softball Confederation president Riccardo Fraccari added: “WBSC congratulates Tokyo 2020 president Mori and IOC president (Thomas) Bach on this great step taken with Olympic baseball and softball as a vehicle to inspire hope and highlight the regeneration in Fukushima.
“It is a tremendous honour and a duty we take very seriously to be a part of something so meaningful – to serve the Olympic Movement and to use the power of sport to shape a better world. It is in this wonderful spirit that WBSC held the U-15 Baseball World Cup last year in Iwaki, Fukushima.”
Yokohama Stadium in the Kanagawa Prefecture will retain its position as the primary venue for baseball and softball competitions.
The 2020 Games will mark baseball/softball’s first appearance at the event since the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The sports will join skateboarding, karate, surfing and sport climbing as additional events at Tokyo 2020.
There have now been 40 venues confirmed for Tokyo 2020, of which eight are permanent new facilities. Twenty-three venues are existing sites, while nine are temporary venues. Thirty-nine of the 40 venues will be used for the Olympics, with 20 to be used for the Paralympics.