(ATR) IOC Coordination Commission Chair John Coates says Yokohama Stadium “promises to be a very good venue" for the return of baseball and softball to the Olympics.
Yokohama mayor Fumiko Hayashi (ATR)
The IOC Coordination Commission on Monday toured Yokohama Stadium, which will host the bulk of Olympic baseball and softball during Tokyo 2020. Opening matches for both tournaments will be held in Fukushima as part of a way to link the Olympics with that region’s broader recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Currently the Yokohama Stadium has a capacity of 29,000 but two stands will be added over the next two winters to bring capacity to 35,000.
The facility is the home of the Yokohama Bay Stars, a Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) franchise. Yokohama mayor Fumiko Hayashi told reporters after receiving the CoComm that it was important the stadium be filled during NPB games after the enthusiasm from the Olympics subsides.
Hayashi emphasized that Yokohama, located within 45 minutes of central Tokyo by train, is proud to host two of the more popular Olympic sports, baseball and football (soccer). Yokohama was also the beneficiary of the delay in the new Japanese National Stadium, which moved the final of the 2019 Rugby World Cup to the city.
“So in that regard we are quite satisfied with the result,” Hayashi said to reporters from a question posed by Around the Rings.
Yokohama Stadium will be the primary venue for Tokyo 2020 baseball and softball (ATR)
“It is very important to have a lot of people and we have to take care of the security aspect and then all things considered our Tokyo 2020 hosting [commitment] is quite successful. We would like to leave a good legacy for the next generations.”
The CoComm toured the construction of one of the two new stands in the stadium, and paid a visit to the field of the stadium. IOC members were then greeted by two current Yokohama Bay Stars players, Japanese medalists in baseball and softball, and Hayashi.
“We are very pleased to see the return of baseball and softball to the Olympics, and we know how popular it is in your country,” Coates said following the reception.
“This promises to be a very successful venue… [This] will be the home of baseball and softball during the Games so we are very excited.”
Eri Yamada, gold medalist in softball at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, told reporters after the session that she was born and raised in Yokohama, which added to the moment.
“It’s a big honor to have the Olympic Games in my hometown,” Yamada said. “I’d like to see the same excitement as when I won the gold medal in Beijing.”
Written by Aaron Bauer in Yokohama
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