Japan win softball opener
Japan’s women’s softball team got the Tokyo 2020 Olympics off to a winning start for the hosts on Wednesday, a boost for the pandemic-postponed Games that the World Health Organization sees as ‘a celebration of hope’ even as COVID-19 cases surge. The softball match between a Gold-medal contender Japan and Australia was held amid buzzing cicadas and polite applause from a few hundred staff as a trio of tworun homers cleared the fence after spectators were banned at the stadium. The game ended after five innings due to a mercy rule.
Players standing along the benches under the scorching sun - 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) by midgame - shouted at the hitters all morning, giving the game a Little League feel. The match was held in Fukushima, the area devastated by the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, which was triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Two more softball games as well as the first six women’s soccer matches are scheduled for later Wednesday. The opening ceremony is Friday. (Reuters)