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Baseball, softball games in Fukushima get IOC nod

Jiji Press PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Jiji Press) — The International Olympic Committee decided at an executive board meeting on Friday to hold some baseball and softball matches of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Fukushima Prefecture.

The IOC executive board approved a proposal by the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which hopes to support reconstruction efforts in areas devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Fukushima hosts Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant, which suffered Japan’s worst nuclear accident due to heavy damage from the disaster.

Baseball and softball will get one match each at a stadium in Azuma Sports Park in the prefectural capital of Fukushima. The organizing committee hopes to use the venue for the events’ opening matches, which are likely to involve Japan’s national teams, officials said.

The Azuma stadium was selected over two other candidate venues in Fukushima Prefecture, due chiefly to its good access from Tokyo.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation agreed to the selection, while demanding a turfed infield and repairs to aging equipment.

“The reconstruction of Japan is a major theme for the Olympics,” Yoshiro Mori, president of the organizing committee, said after the IOC decision at the meeting in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“We hope to show people in Japan and the rest of the world that the nation has recovered from the disaster,” Mori said. “We will consider additional ways to encourage people in disaster areas.”

Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said, “We take the approval seriously and will do all we can to ensure a successful 2020 Olympic Games.”

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