Tokyo 2020: Fukushima to host Olympic events nine years on from nuclear disaster

    Members of a baseball team pray for their coach who went missing during the Fukushima disaster.

    Story highlights

    • Fukushima nuclear power plant suffered triple meltdown
    • Baseball and softball events to be held in surrounding area during Tokyo 2020
    • Organizers hope events will aid regeneration

    (CNN)It's not uncommon for Olympic venues to fall into a state of disrepair after the Games have gone and the crowds have dissipated.

    But Tokyo 2020 organizers are hoping for a role reversal, using the Olympic Games to help regenerate Fukushima -- an area devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster.
      On Friday, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori announced Fukushima will stage Olympic baseball and softball matches.
      "By hosting Olympic baseball and softball events, Fukushima will have a great platform to show the world the extent of its recovery since the disaster," Mori said in a statement.
      "It will also be a wonderful chance for us to show our gratitude towards those who assisted in the region's reconstruction. And I'm sure the people of Fukushima are also looking forward very much to seeing Olympics events hosted there."
      The neighboring Miyagi prefecture, also hit by the earthquake and tsunami, will host the preliminary rounds of the Olympic football competition.

      Regeneration

      Baseball is considered Japan's most popular sport, with tens of thousands frequently flocking to watch the Nippon Professional Baseball league.
      Japan has won three baseball medals since its introduction as an official Olympic sport in 1992, never failing to reach the semifinals. The game is back on the agenda for 2020, having been dropped after Beijing 2008.
      The events will be held at the Azuma Baseball stadium, some 70 kilometers northwest of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
      Renovated for the 2020 Games, the 30,000-seat venue will host Olympic matches in conjunction with the Yokohama Stadium in the Kanagawa prefecture.
      The World Baseball Softball Confederation, which helped reach the decision, praised Mori and International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, asserting the Olympic showcase could serve as a "vehicle to inspire hope."
      "It is a tremendous honor and a duty we take very seriously to be a part of something so meaningful," WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari said, adding the power of sport could be harnessed to "shape a better world."

      A different form of legacy