LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – Baseball and softball have a 2020 Tokyo home, with Yokohama Stadium in Kanagawa Prefecture getting the nod from the IOC.
The International Olympic Committee made the choice, along with venues for four other new sports, at an executive meeting on Wednesday.
The Tokyo Games organizing committee did not bring up the possibility of holding a portion of the baseball and softball games in Fukushima Prefecture — a plan previously discussed as an effort to revitalize the region affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster — because talks with the World Baseball Softball Confederation are still ongoing.
Organizing committee head Yoshiro Mori, who reported the state of preparations to the IOC executive board, said a decision had yet to be made regarding a possible Fukushima venue. “We didn’t mention it and there were no questions” from the board, he said.
Meanwhile, karate will share a venue with judo at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, while surfing events will take place at Tsurigasaki Beach in the town of Ichinomiya, Chiba Prefecture. Skateboarding and sport climbing will be held at Aomi Urban Sports Venue in Tokyo’s Koto Ward.
Organizers also told the IOC board that they plan to continue efforts to cut costs and stay under the recently established ¥2 trillion cap.
Earlier Wednesday, Mori said the world governing body for baseball and softball deemed two of the three stadiums in Fukushima Prefecture proposed for the Tokyo Olympics unfit to host the games.
Of the three proposed venues, Fukushima city’s Azuma Stadium and Kaiseizan Stadium in Koriyama did not meet the WBSC’s standards and only Iwaki’s Green Stadium passed.
The WBSC inspected Azuma and Kaiseizan stadiums in November, when, according to Mori, the confederation asked 2020 organizing committee Vice President Toshiaki Endo to work with Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori to come up with solutions.
Mori said while the IOC is generally supportive of Fukushima being a part of the games, its chief concern is the distance from Tokyo, and whether the travel will take a toll on athletes.
Mori met with IOC President Thomas Bach on the sidelines of the executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, and agreed to hold baseball and softball games at Yokohama Stadium, except for those which may be held in Fukushima Prefecture.
Tokyo organizers have proposed dividing six teams into two groups in a preliminary round, but the WBSC requested that the first round be a round-robin format with all teams. Because the format would require more games, the group requested an additional venue in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
Mori told reporters that he confirmed with Bach that there should be only one main venue for baseball and softball in the metropolitan area.
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