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.