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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

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future

Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future