Fukushima, stricken by one of the world’s worst-ever nuclear disasters in 2011, wants to host baseball and softball games at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — and hopes to convince athletes to eat the local food.
The sports were dropped from the Olympic program after 2008 but are tipped to be voted back in by the IOC next year, given their popularity in Japan.
“If baseball and softball return to the Olympics, and preliminary games are played outside Tokyo, then we hope to be able to stage games,” Fukushima city official Hiroaki Kuwajima told AFP.
“We are still in the process of recovery from the disaster and it would be a dream to have world-class athletes play here.”
The official, from the city’s planning management division, claimed that the area has been the victim of what he described as “harmful rumors” over the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant triggered by the deadly tsunami in March 2011.
“Fukushima has suffered a lot of financial damage caused by misinformation,” he said. “We would like to be able to sweep away those harmful rumors. Fukushima has venues capable of hosting these games.”
Fukushima Prefecture, situated 240 km north of Tokyo, is also keen on holding Olympic training camps and wants overseas athletes and fans to eat locally produced food, despite concerns over radiation levels. Fukushima City is just 60 km away from the crippled nuclear reactors.