Fukushima, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami, hopes to host preliminary baseball and softball games for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, according to Agence France-Presse.
“We are still in the process of recovery from the disaster, and it would be a dream to have world-class athletes play here,” said Fukushima city official Hiroaki Kuwajima, according to AFP.
The Fukushima meltdowns were a cause of concern as Tokyo bid for the 2020 Olympics in 2013. It won an International Olympic Committee vote over Istanbul and Madrid and will host its second Games, 56 years after its first.
In the 2013 question-and-answer session with IOC members, Tokyo organizers were asked about a leak of radiation-contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear plant. At the time, it marked the fifth and largest leak from the plant damaged by the 2011 tsunami.
There were concerns over possible radiation effects, but Kuwajima cited “harmful rumors,” and Fukushima hopes athletes will eat the local food, according to AFP.
“Fukushima has suffered a lot of financial damage caused by misinformation,” Kuwajima said, according to AFP. “We would like to be able to sweep away those harmful rumors.”
Baseball and softball were last contested at the Olympics in 2008. In 2013, they lost a vote to be re-added to the Olympics for 2020 and 2024, but they could still be added for the 2020 Olympics, if the host of Tokyo submits a proposal that is approved.
Baseball and softball were traditionally held at one or two venues when part of the Olympic program, and Fukushima is 155 miles north of Tokyo.
The then-Fukushima Governor said in June that he hoped the 2020 Olympic torch relay would go through Fukushima.