Abuja, March 17, 2017 (TNE): The 2020 Olympic Games’ baseball matches is to be held in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, an area devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
The Azuma Baseball Stadium in Fukushima city will host at least one baseball and one softball match, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said on Friday.
The city is about 100km from the nuclear plant hit by the tsunami, which caused a triple meltdown.
It was the worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
Fukushima has suffered lasting stigma since the disaster, with many shunning produce from the region over fears of nuclear contamination.
The move to hold matches in the prefecture will help boost the region, Mori who is a former Japanese Prime Minister, said.
“Tokyo 2020 is a showcase for the recovery and reconstruction of Japan from the disaster of March 2011. So, in many ways we will like to give encouragement to the people, especially in the affected area.”
He added that the baseball match was likely to be the first of the 2020 Games, hosting the sport for the first time since 2008.
Mori spoke on the sidelines of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board meeting in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which is the host of the 2018 Winter Games.
The decision was welcomed by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, which called it a “tremendous honour and a duty” in a statement distributed by Tokyo 2020 officials. Baseball is Japan’s most popular sport.(TNE)