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Japan off to a good start in Softball as Olympics starts in Fukushima

Published: 21st Jul 2021 7:13 pm

Fukushima: Host Japan got off to a winning start when the Tokyo Olympics got underway after a one-year delay, beating Australia 8-1 on Wednesday in softball behind 39-year-old pitcher Yukiko Ueno, who won the 2008 gold medal game against the United States.

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The game was played in a nearly empty stadium. Fans were barred from the Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused a one-year delay.

Playing about 150 miles from the main Olympics sites in Tokyo, the teams lined up for the national anthems in a stadium with a listed capacity of 30,000 that had about 50 spectators, presumably team and Olympic officials, plus media.

It was 88 degrees with 60 per cent humidity for the morning start, which had the sun in the eyes of left-handed batters. The artificial turf made it seem even warmer, and Stepto pitched without a cap.

The first two days of the softball tournament are being played about 40 miles from the site of a 2011 nuclear power plant disaster. The rest of the tournament will be in Yokohama, near Tokyo.
Most of the approximately 11,000 athletes are in the Tokyo area.

Japan are defending softball gold medalist after upsetting the US in the 2008 final.

Softball and baseball were dropped for 2012 and 2016 and restored for these Olympics. The discipline has already been dropped for the 2024 Paris Games and are likely to be restored for 2028 in Los Angeles.

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