Fukushima, site of nuclear disaster, wants to host 2020 Olympic baseball

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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.

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Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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