2020 Olympics

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Some 2020 Olympic baseball, softball games set 150 miles north of Tokyo

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TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo Olympic organizers agreed Wednesday to hold some of the baseball and softball competition of the 2020 Games in Fukushima, the region devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

While the primary venue for baseball and softball is expected to be Yokohama Stadium, several cities in Fukushima are being considered for games in the preliminary rounds.

Fukushima is about 150 miles north of Tokyo, which is a little farther than the distance between Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. Previously, the farthest (non-demonstration sport) Olympic baseball or softball games were played outside of the host city was in 1996, when softball was in Columbus, Ga., about 100 miles south of Atlanta.

Holding Olympic events in the disaster-affected areas could send a powerful message of reconstruction.

Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori met with organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori on Wednesday.

“We will now work with the organizing committee to decide on the location and do everything we can to make the event a success in Fukushima Prefecture,” Uchibori said.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month and suggested staging some events in the area.

Riccardo Fraccari, president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, is scheduled to visit Japan next week for an inspection tour.

Tokyo organizing committee spokeswoman Hikariko Ono said the IOC will make a final decision on the location in Fukushima Prefecture at its Dec. 6-8 executive board meeting.

Baseball and softball were dropped from the Olympics after Beijing 2008 but are among five sports added to the program for the Tokyo Games.

MORE: The greatest Olympic baseball players of all time

Tokyo to propose moving more venues for Olympics

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TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo’s original plans for a compact Olympics in 2020 continue to fall by the wayside.

A Tokyo government panel is set to propose moving more venues outside of the city – including hundreds of kilometers (miles) away – in order to save money, the latest in a series of changes since the Japanese capital was awarded the games three years ago.

Among the venues being reviewed are those for volleyball, swimming, rowing and canoe sprint, Kyodo news agency reported Wednesday.

Public broadcaster NHK said the panel would propose moving rowing and canoeing to Tome City, about 440 kilometers (270 miles) northeast of Tokyo in the prefecture of Miyagi. Tome was one of several cities severely affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The city is approximately 70 kilometers (45 miles) north of Sendai, which is a three-hour train ride from Tokyo.

Details of the proposed changes are expected to be made public Thursday at a meeting of a taskforce for metropolitan government reform.

The changes would require approval of the International Olympic Committee and the individual international sports federations.

The government panel was set up earlier this month by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who is determined to reduce the soaring costs.

Tokyo won the right to host the games in 2013 by promising a compact bid with 28 of the 31 competition venues within an eight-kilometer (5-mile) radius of the Olympic Village. Originally, only shooting, modern pentathlon and one football venue were to be outside the eight-kilometer radius.

Already, venues for basketball, taekwondo and cycling have been moved outside of Tokyo to maximize existing facilities. Cycling was moved to Izu, some 145 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of the capital.

Tokyo organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori acknowledged in July that the cost of building seven temporary venues for the Olympics had surged to an estimated $2.6 billion, up from an initial estimate of $690 million.

Mori said the original figures were the result of sloppy calculations which he blamed on the Tokyo metropolitan government and the Japanese Olympic Committee.

The organizing committee hasn’t disclosed an official estimate of the overall costs but has acknowledged it will be considerably higher than the $3.5 billion that was forecast in the bid.

Preparations for the games have been plagued by a series of scandals involving the new national stadium, the official logo and allegations of bribery in the bidding process.

Work on the new national stadium has fallen behind schedule because the government abandoned an original design amid spiraling costs. The total costs for staging the Olympics are shared by the organizing committee, the Tokyo municipal government and the national government.

MORE: Aly Raisman: Tokyo 2020 is the goal

Ceremony marks 4 years to go before Tokyo hosts Olympics

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TOKYO (AP) — Organizers held a ceremony on Sunday to mark four years to go before Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics.

A group of Japanese school children helped put the finishing touches on a giant globe made out of 2,020 origami paper cranes in the ceremony held at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

Yoshinobu Miyake, who won a gold medal in weightlifting the last time Tokyo hosted the Summer Games in 1964, attended the ceremony.

Takashi Yamamoto, the vice governor of Tokyo, also attended. Former governor Yoichi Masuzoe resigned last month for allegedly using political funds for personal purposes.

The 2020 Olympics will take place between July 24 and Aug. 9.

Tokyo defeated Istanbul 60-36 in the final round of the IOC voting for hosting rights. Madrid was eliminated on the first ballot.