The Olympics will finally begin, 1 year later and far from Tokyo

FUKUSHIMA – Skippy the yellow kangaroo with green legs was affixed to the railing of the canoe at first base, watching the Australia Spirit become the first team to train at Fukushima Azuma baseball stadium, seven weeks after becoming the first athletes foreigners to arrive at the Olympics.

Coach Laing Harrow hits the ground and flies away for his women starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, exactly 24 hours before the eighth-seeded Australians take over when host Japan’s softball team # 2, launches the very first throw of the very first event of the Olympic Games delayed by the pandemic.

The Games of the 32nd Olympiad were due to start on July 22, but were postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. Although many people in Japan wonder if it is wise for the virus to still rage in the country, the International Olympic Committee is moving ahead.

This stadium, located about 150 miles north of Tokyo and similar to a big-league spring training camp, has just a few handfuls of the 11,000 athletes converging on the Tokyo Games. The stadium, 42 miles northwest of the site of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, will host the first two days of the softball tournament and the opening day of the baseball event on July 28, the remains being at Yokohama’s home of the Central League. DeNA BayStars, a large stadium 27 km from the capital.

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In their bright yellow jerseys, the Australians were excited to be about to start.

“It was disappointing for the girls, obviously, to be postponed for a year,” Harrow said. “Some of them would have had plans after August 2020. And, of course, it wasn’t in their plans to continue to be in the gym every day and work out every day. But overall the girls handled it really well. And I think one thing we’re really good at is our adaptability.

Top-of-the-table USA looking to regain the gold they lost when they were beaten by Japan 3-1 in the 2008 final in Beijing open against Italy No. 9 in the second game of a hat-trick that ends with No. 5. Mexico versus Canada, third.

Host Japan then went to bat training on a grill day with 95-degree heat and high humidity, followed by Italy, the United States, Mexico and Canada.

A list of 15 women in the United States includes a pair of veterans: 38-year-old southpaw Cat Osterman, the last survivor of the 2004 gold-medal team, and 35-year-old southpaw Monica Abbott, who joined Osteman. . in the 2008 team.

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Outfielder Janie Reed is the wife of Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Jake Reed, who made his league debut on July 6, played six games and was selected for the Oklahoma City Triple-A on Monday.

“The appearance of being 16 months, 17 months now since the decision to delay the Olympics has probably caused some environmental things,” said US coach Ken Eriksen. “Number one, the natural order of aging another year for some of the players as either improved or maybe it brought some dismay, especially emotional.

The US team trained in the United States until June 20 and started in Japan on July 5 at Iwakuni, 525 miles southwest of Tokyo.

The Canadian team dispersed last March, did not regroup until January, and landed in Japan on July 6.

“We relied on what a lot of people have done, just Zoom calls and just virtual communication and trying to stay connected, but luckily this time has given way to a lot more individual preparation and a lot of learning and a lot. people picking up their knowledge and just continuing to hone their craft, ”said Canadian outfielder Victoria Hayward, who trains at Proswings in Longwood, Fla., to enjoy the fastest time. “So we feel very lucky to have had a little extra time to sharpen our axes and work together. and then in 2021, we were able to be together for most of the year without a break.

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