Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Softball – Ladies – Opening Spherical – Australia v Japan – Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium – Fukushima, Japan – July 21, 2021. Yukiko Ueno of Japan (C) pitches. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
July 21, 2021
By Paresh Dave
FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) – Japanese pitcher Yukiko Ueno started the pandemic-postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday by firing a fastball off the plate to start out a softball recreation towards Australia amid a sea of empty blue and orange seats ringing the sector.
Olympics and Japanese officers have solid on with the sports activities spectacle regardless of opposition within the nation to internet hosting greater than 11,000 athletes and the employees and media that include them amid rising COVID-19 infections.
Two extra softball video games in addition to the primary six girls’s soccer matches are scheduled for later Wednesday. The opening ceremony is Friday.
Coaches for the six softball competing nations applauded organisers on Tuesday for making a secure surroundings and mentioned their gamers notably respect the Olympics not being cancelled.
The Olympics dropped softball as a sport after 2008. But it surely was revived for these Video games in Japan, the place an estimated 400,000 individuals play the century-old sport right here. It won’t return till at the very least 2028.
Japan are searching for their second consecutive gold and their fourth straight medal, with the US its high rival. Australia are searching for their fifth medal in as many possibilities however their first gold.
The preliminary two days of video games are being held at a baseball stadium on the foot of lush hills in Fukushima, a area badly affected by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear catastrophe.
After the 2008 Olympics in China featured a softball-specific venue, a short lived fencing in an outfield and an electronically-lowered pitching mound for the game in Fukushima has attracted scorn from followers. However coaches have referred to as the sector glorious and mentioned they have been grateful to additional Fukushima’s rejuvenation.
Whereas spectators are banned, concourses at stadiums together with the one at Fukushima are lined with younger peach bushes and different crops bearing messages from native kids urging athletes to “go for gold”.
(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Modifying by Karishma Singh)